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ABC Teaching Human Rights

United Nations
Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004)
No 4
Practical activities for primary and secondary schools
United Nations
New York and Geneva, 2003
Material contained in this series may be freely quoted or reprinted, provided credit is
given and a copy of the publication containing the reprinted material is sent to the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1211 Geneva 10,
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do
not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of
the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area,
or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Sales No. E.03.XIV.3
ISBN 92-1-154149-2
ABC: Teaching Human Rights - Practical activities for primary and secondary
schools talks about us as human beings. It talks about the process of teaching and
learning the significance of the inherent “dignity and worth of the human person”
which is the “foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” (Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble). And it talks about the rights that belong to
us all.
These are not just lessons for the classroom but lessons for life – of immediate
relevance to our daily life and experience. In this sense, human rights education
means not only teaching and learning about human rights, but also for human rights:
its fundamental role is to empower individuals to defend their own rights and those of
others. This empowerment constitutes an important investment for the future, aimed
at achieving a just society in which all human rights of all persons are valued and
This booklet is a practical contribution by my Office to the United Nations Decade for
Human Rights Education (1995-2004), during which Governments, international
organizations, non-governmental organizations, professional associations, all sectors
of civil society and individuals have been especially encouraged to establish
partnerships and to concentrate efforts for human rights education. The Decade
provides us with a global common framework in which we can work together; indeed,
the realization of human rights is our common responsibility, and its achievement is
entirely dependent on the contribution that each and everyone will be willing to make.
I hope that this booklet and other initiatives based on it will lead many individuals
who work as teachers and educators around the world to be positive agents of change.
I wish to extend thanks to the individuals and organizations who supported my Office
in the preparation of this booklet, in particular Ralph Pettman, who developed the first
1989 edition; Nancy Flowers, who worked on the revision and updating of that
edition; and Margot Brown, Felisa Tibbitts and the UNESCO Division for the
Promotion of Quality Education, who provided useful comments and suggestions for
Sergio Vieira de Mello
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Introduction :
Using ABC: Teaching Human Rights ......................................................1
Chapter One:
Fundamentals of Human Rights Education...........................................3
The development of the human rights framework..........................................................3
Promoting human rights .................................................................................................5
The UN Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) ..........................................6
The process of human rights education in schools .........................................................7
Content for human rights education .............................................................................11
Teaching about and for human rights...........................................................................11
Rights and responsibilities............................................................................................12
Teaching and preaching - action speaks louder than words .........................................12
Dealing with difficult issues.........................................................................................13
Pedagogical techniques for human rights education ....................................................14
Chapter Two:
Human Rights Topics for Preschool and Lower Primary School......19
Confidence and social respect ......................................................................................19
Resolving conflicts .......................................................................................................19
Confronting discrimination ..........................................................................................20
Appreciating similarities and differences.....................................................................21
Fostering confidence and self-esteem ..........................................................................21
Building trust................................................................................................................25
Creating classroom rules ..............................................................................................25
Understanding human rights ........................................................................................26
Introducing children’s rights ........................................................................................27
Chapter Three:
Human Rights Topics for Upper Primary and Lower and Senior
Secondary School....................................................................................31
Protecting life – the individual in society.....................................................................31
War, peace and human rights .......................................................................................33
Government and the law...............................................................................................36
Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression .............................40
The right to privacy ......................................................................................................42
The freedom to meet and take part in public affairs.....................................................42
Social and cultural well-being ......................................................................................43
Discrimination ..............................................................................................................44
1. Discrimination – stereotypes ................................................................................45
2. Discrimination - colour or race .............................................................................46
3. Discrimination - minority group status .................................................................46
4. Discrimination – gender........................................................................................48
5. Discrimination – disability....................................................................................50
The right to education...................................................................................................51
Development and the environment...............................................................................53
Economic development and interrelatedness ...............................................................58
Business and human rights ...........................................................................................59
Understanding the United Nations ...............................................................................61
Creating a human rights community ............................................................................62
Taking the human rights temperature of your school...................................................63
Just a beginning… ...................................................................................................................65
1. Original text and simplified version of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.................................................................................................................... 69
2. Original text and summarized version of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child ...................................................................................................................... 75
3. A brief introduction to international human rights law terminology ..................... 97
4. Selected organizations ......................................................................................... 100
United Nations organizations ................................................................... 100
Other organizations .................................................................................. 102
4.2.1 International level ........................................................................ 102
4.2.2 Some contacts at the regional level............................................. 104
5. Other selected classroom resources ..................................................................... 109
United Nations resources.......................................................................... 109
Other resources......................................................................................... 112
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination
International Committee of the Red Cross
International Labour Organization
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Health Organization
Using ABC: Teaching Human Rights
ABC: Teaching Human Rights aims to serve as a user-friendly tool for human rights
education and a multi-coloured umbrella covering a number of basic human rights
areas. It offers practical advice to teachers and other educators who want to foster
human rights awareness and action among primary and secondary school children,
including suggestions for developing learning activities. It is not meant to place an
extra burden on an already overloaded curriculum but to assist in infusing human
rights issues into subjects already taught in schools.
There has been much research into how children and young people develop
judgements as they grow. Not every class member may be able to grasp fully every
human rights principle: pressing students to understand right from the beginning may
pre-empt the honest expression of what they think or feel and may even halt further
progress. This booklet assumes that all human beings benefit from the chance to
explore rights issues, and that by the age of ten years or so, students given such a
chance have a capacity for lively and profound reflection far beyond that usually
expected. The suggested activities require few extra materials. Instead they call on the
richest resource all teachers have to work with – their students and their experiences
in everyday life.
Chapter One lays out principal human rights concepts and the fundamentals of
human rights education. It reviews basic content and methodologies and elaborates on
participatory techniques.
Chapter Two is intended for primary school teachers, offering suggestions for
nurturing younger children's sense of their own worth and that of others through
materials that evoke the human rights principles of human dignity and equality.
Chapter Three contains activities for upper primary and secondary school students
that are of a more sophisticated nature and deal with current issues.
The activities in Chapter Two and Chapter Three are intended to give students a
more profound awareness and understanding of human rights issues around the world
and in their own classroom and community. They aim at stimulating independent
thinking and research and building skills for active citizenship in a democracy. It is
also important for students to enjoy the activities. It can be better to abandon or
interrupt an activity if students put up too much resistance.
Each activity is followed by a reference to articles of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, two United Nations
instruments that are introduced in Chapter One and reproduced respectively in
Annex 1 and Annex 2. The references aim at highlighting the provisions that served
as a source of inspiration for each activity; however, the activities may not necessarily
reflect the full scope and extent of the rights contained in the above-mentioned
instruments, as recognized by international law. Annex 3 contains a brief introduction
to the terminology used in this body of law.
ABC: Teaching Human Rights is one of the many resources available worldwide for
furthering human rights education with schoolchildren. It can be a starting point for
further research and study on the subject with a view to developing culturally
appropriate materials at all teaching levels, and can be used in conjunction with or
supplemented by other materials developed by local actors (governmental agencies,
national human rights institutions, non-governmental organizations and other civil
society entities), to which teachers and users in general may also turn for assistance
and support.
A selection of other classroom resources produced at the international and regional
levels is included in Annex 5; other materials, including various documents
mentioned in the text, can also be obtained from, inter alia, the organizations
mentioned in Annex 4 and their local offices.
Chapter One
Fundamentals of Human Rights
Human rights may be generally defined as those rights which are inherent in our
nature and without which we cannot live as human beings. Human rights and
fundamental freedoms allow us to develop fully and use our human qualities, our
intelligence, our talents and our conscience and to satisfy our spiritual and other
needs. They are based on humankind’s increasing demand for a life in which the
inherent dignity and worth of each human being are accorded respect and protection.
Their denial is not only an individual and personal tragedy but also creates conditions
of social and political unrest, sowing the seeds of violence and conflict within and
between societies and nations.
The development of the human rights framework
The history of human rights has been shaped by all major world events and by the
struggle for dignity, freedom and equality everywhere. Yet it was only with the
establishment of the United Nations that human rights finally achieved formal,
universal recognition.
The turmoil and atrocities of the Second World War and the growing struggle of
colonial nations for independence prompted the countries of the world to create a
forum to deal with some of the war’s consequences and, in particular, to prevent the
recurrence of such appalling events. This forum was the United Nations.
When the United Nations was founded in 1945, it reaffirmed the faith in human rights
of all the peoples taking part. Human rights were cited in the founding Charter as
central to their concerns and have remained so ever since.
One of the first major achievements of the newly formed United Nations was the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),1 adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly on 10 December 1948. This powerful instrument continues to exert
an enormous impact on people’s lives all over the world. It was the first time in
history that a document considered to have universal value was adopted by an
international organization. It was also the first time that human rights and
fundamental freedoms were set forth in such detail.
There was broad-based international support for the Declaration when it was adopted.
Although the fifty-eight Member States that constituted the United Nations at that
time varied in terms of their ideology, political system, religious and cultural
background, and patterns of socio-economic development, the Universal Declaration
For the full text and simplified version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, see annex 1.
of Human Rights represented a common statement of shared goals and aspirations – a
vision of the world as the international community would like it to be.
The Declaration recognizes that the “inherent dignity … of all members of the human
family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” and is linked to
the recognition of the fundamental rights to which every human being aspires, namely
the right to life, liberty and security of person; the right to an adequate standard of
living; the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution; the
right to own property; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right to
education; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and the right to
freedom from torture and degrading treatment, among others. These are inherent
rights to be enjoyed by all inhabitants of the global village (women, men, children and
all groups in society, whether disadvantaged or not) and not “gifts” to be withdrawn,
withheld or granted at someone’s whim or will.
Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in
its early years, emphasized both the universality of these rights and the responsibility
they entail when she asked:
Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places,
close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any
maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the
neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory,
farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man,
woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity
without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they
have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to
uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the
larger world.2
On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights in 1998, Mary Robinson, High Commissioner for Human Rights, called it “one
of the great aspirational documents of our human history”. It has served as the model
for many national constitutions and has truly become the most universal of all
instruments, having been translated into more languages than any other.3
The Declaration has inspired a large number of subsequent human rights instruments,
which together constitute the international law of human rights.4 These instruments
include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)
and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), treaties that are
legally binding on the States that are parties to them. The Universal Declaration and
the two Covenants constitute the International Bill of Rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt, “In Our Hands” (1958 speech delivered on the tenth anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
For more information on the Universal Declaration, including the text of the UDHR in more than
330 languages and dialects, see http://www.ohchr.org or contact the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights.
For a brief introduction to international human rights law terminology, including some words used
in this chapter such as “treaty”, “convention”, “protocol” and “ratification”, see annex 3. For a full
overview of international human rights instruments, see http://www.ohchr.org or contact the Office
of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The rights contained in the Declaration and the two Covenants have been further
elaborated in other treaties such as the International Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), which declares dissemination of ideas
based on racial superiority or hatred as being punishable by law, and the Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), prescribing
measures to be taken to eliminate discrimination against women in political and
public life, education, employment, health, marriage and the family.
Of particular importance to anyone involved with schools is the Convention on the
Rights of the Child,5 which lays down guarantees of the child’s human rights.
Adopted by the General Assembly in 1989, the Convention has been ratified by more
countries than any other human rights treaty. In addition to guaranteeing children
protection from harm and abuse and making special provision for their survival and
welfare through, for example, health care, education, and family life, it accords them
the right to participate in society and in decision-making that concerns them. Two
Protocols to the Convention have recently been adopted, the Optional Protocol on the
sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Optional Protocol
on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2000).
Chart of the Principal United Nations Human Rights Instruments
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948
International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966
Relating to
the Status of
Convention on
the Elimination
of All Forms of
International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
Convention on
the Elimination
of All Forms of
against Women,
and Other
Inhuman or
Treatment or
on the Rights
of the Child,
Promoting human rights
Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights have
become central to the work of the United Nations. Emphasizing the universality of
human rights, Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated on the fiftieth anniversary of the
For the full text and summarized version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, see annex 2.
Declaration that “Human rights is foreign to no country and native to all nations” and
that “without human rights no peace or prosperity will ever last”.
Within the United Nations system, human rights are furthered by a myriad of different
mechanisms and procedures: by working groups and committees; by reports, studies
and statements; by conferences, plans and programmes; by decades for action; by
research and training; by voluntary and trust funds; by assistance of many kinds at the
global, regional and local levels; by specific measures taken; by investigations
conducted; and by the many procedures devised to promote and protect human rights.
Action to build a culture of human rights is also supported by United Nations
specialized agencies, programmes and funds such as the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International
Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and by
relevant departments of the United Nations Secretariat such as the Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Other international, regional and
national bodies, both governmental and non-governmental, are also working to
promote human rights.
At the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, Austria, in 1993, 171
countries reiterated the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human
rights, and reaffirmed their commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. They adopted the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which
provides the new “framework of planning, dialogue and cooperation” to facilitate the
adoption of a holistic approach to promoting human rights and to involve actors at the
local, national and international levels.
The United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004)
Not least of these activities to promote human rights is human rights education. Since
the adoption of the Universal Declaration, the General Assembly has called on
Member States and all segments of society to disseminate this fundamental document
and educate people about its content. The 1993 World Conference on Human Rights
also reaffirmed the importance of education, training and public information.
In response to the appeal by the World Conference, the General Assembly, in 1994,
proclaimed the period 1995 to 2004 the United Nations Decade for Human Rights
Education. The Assembly affirmed that “human rights education should involve more
than the provision of information and should constitute a comprehensive life-long
process by which people at all levels in development and in all strata of society learn
respect for the dignity of others and the means and methods of ensuring that respect in
all societies”.
The Plan of Action for the Decade provides a definition of the concept of human
rights education as agreed by the international community, i.e. based on the
provisions of international human rights instruments.6 In accordance with those
provisions, human rights education may be defined as “training, dissemination and
information efforts aimed at the building of a universal culture of human rights
through the imparting of knowledge and skills and the moulding of attitudes and
directed to:
The strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
The full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity;
The promotion of understanding, tolerance, gender equality and friendship
among all nations, indigenous peoples and racial, national, ethnic, religious
and linguistic groups;
The enabling of all persons to participate effectively in a free society;
The furtherance of the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of
The Decade’s Plan of Action provides a strategy for furthering human rights
education through the assessment of needs and the formulation of effective strategies;
the building and strengthening of programmes and capacities at the international,
regional, national and local levels; the coordinated development of materials; the
strengthening of the role of the mass media; and the global dissemination of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The process of human rights education in schools
A sustainable (in the long term), comprehensive and effective national strategy for
infusing human rights education into educational systems may include various courses
of action, such as:
The incorporation of human rights education in national legislation
regulating education in schools;
The revision of curricula and textbooks;
Pre-service and in-service training for teachers to include training on
human rights and human rights education methodologies;
The organization of extracurricular activities, both based on schools and
reaching out to the family and the community;
The development of educational materials;
The establishment of support networks of teachers and other professionals
(from human rights groups, teachers’ unions, non-governmental
organizations or professional associations) and so on.
Including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 26.2), the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 13.1), the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(art. 29.1) and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (sect. D, paras. 78-82).
See United Nations document A/51/506/Add.1, appendix, para. 2 – available at
http://www.ohchr.org or by contacting the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights.
The concrete way in which this process takes place in each country depends on local
educational systems which differ widely, not least in the degree of discretion teachers
may exercise in setting their own teaching goals and meeting them. The teacher will
always be the key person, however, in getting new initiatives to work. The teacher
therefore carries a great responsibility for communication of the human rights
message. Opportunities to do this may vary: human rights themes may be infused into
existing school subjects, such as history, civics, literature, art, geography, languages
and scientific subjects, or may have a specific course allocated to them; human rights
education may also be pursued through less formal education arenas within and
outside schools such as after-school activities, clubs and youth forums.
Ideally, a human rights culture should be built into the whole curriculum (yet in
practice, particularly at secondary level, it is usually treated piecemeal, as part of the
established curriculum in the social and economic sciences and the humanities).
In the classroom, human rights education should be developed with due attention to
the developmental stage of children and their social and cultural contexts in order to
make human rights principles meaningful to them. For example, human rights
education for younger children could emphasize the development of self-esteem and
empathy and a classroom culture supportive of human rights principles. Although
young children are able to grasp the underlying principles of basic human rights
instruments, the more complex content of human rights documents may be more
appropriate to older learners with better developed capacities for concept development
and analytical reasoning. The following table reflects a matrix proposing the
progressive introduction of children to human rights concepts depending on their age.
The proposal is not meant to be prescriptive but only to provide an example, which
was developed and discussed by human rights education practitioners gathered in
Geneva in 1997.
Familiarization of children with human rights concepts - A step-by-step approach
Early childhood
Pre-school and lower
primary school
Ages 3-7
*Respect for self
*Respect for parents and
*Respect for others
Later Childhood
All the above plus:
Upper primary school
*Social responsibility
*Distinguishing wants
from needs, from rights
Ages 8-11
All the above plus:
Lower secondary school
*Knowledge of specific
human rights
Ages 12-14
*Hurting people
(feelings, physically)
*Classroom rules
*Family life
*Community standards
*Universal Declaration of
Human Rights
*Convention on the Rights
of the Child
*Personal responsibility
*Small group work
*Individual work
*Understanding cause/effect
*Conflict resolution
*Individual rights
*Group rights
*Rule of law
*Valuing diversity
*Distinguishing between
fact and opinion
*Performing school or
community service
*Civic participation
*History of human rights
*Local, national legal
*Local and national
history in human rights
organizations (NGOs)
*International law
*World peace
*World development
*World political economy
*Understanding other
points of view
*Citing evidence in support
of ideas
*Political repression
*UN Covenants
*Elimination of racism
*Elimination of sexism
*UN High Commissioner
All the above plus:
Upper secondary school
*Knowledge of human
rights as universal
*Integration of human
rights into personal
awareness and behaviour
Ages 15-17
*World ecology
*Doing research / gathering
*Sharing information
*Economic globalization
*Moral responsibility/
*Participation in civic
*Fulfilling civic
*Civic disobedience
*War crimes
for Refugees
*Regional human rights
*Geneva Conventions
*Specialized conventions
*Evolving human rights
Content for human rights education
The history of human rights tells a detailed story of efforts made to define the basic
dignity and worth of the human being and his or her most fundamental entitlements.
These efforts continue to this day. The teacher will want to include an account of this
history as an essential part of human rights teaching, and it can be made progressively
more sophisticated as students mature. The fight for civil and political rights, the
campaign to abolish slavery, the struggle for economic and social justice, the
achievement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the two subsequent
Covenants, and all the conventions and declarations that followed, especially the
Convention on the Rights of the Child – all these topics provide a basic legal and
normative framework.
The core content of human rights education in schools is the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These documents –
which have received universal recognition, as explained above – provide principles
and ideas with which to assess experience and build a school culture that values
human rights. The rights they embody are universal, meaning that all human beings
are entitled to them, on an equal basis; they are indivisible, meaning there is no
hierarchy of rights, i.e. no right can be ranked as “non-essential” or “less important”
than another. Instead human rights are interdependent, part of a complementary
framework. For example, your right to participate in government is directly affected
by your right to express yourself, to form associations, to get an education and even to
obtain the necessities of life. Each human right is necessary and each is interrelated to
all others.
However, even taught with the greatest skill and care, documents and history alone
cannot bring human rights to life in the classroom. Nor does working through the
Universal Declaration or the Convention on the Rights of the Child, pointing out the
rationale for each article, teach the meaning of these articles in people’s lives. “Facts”
and “fundamentals”, even the best-selected ones, are not enough to build a culture of
human rights. For these documents to have more than intellectual significance,
students need to approach them from the perspective of their real-life experience and
grapple with them in terms of their own understanding of justice, freedom and equity.
Teaching about and for human rights
Research has shown that some upper primary and secondary school students
sometimes suffer from a lack of confidence that limits their ability to socialize with
others. It is difficult to care about someone else’s rights when you do not expect to
have any yourself. Where this is the case, teaching for human rights could require
going back to the beginning and teaching confidence and tolerance first, as proposed
in Chapter Two of this booklet. The trust exercises, in the same chapter, can be used
with any group and help to establish a good classroom climate, which is crucial for
human rights education. These activities can be repeated (with suitable variations) to
settle students into activities that require group cooperation. They can also foster the
human capacity for sympathy, which is fragile and contingent but nonetheless real,
and confirm the fact that no person is more of a human being than another and no
person is less.
Already implicit above is the idea – central to this booklet – that teaching about
human rights is not enough. The teacher will want to begin, and never to finish,
teaching for human rights. For this reason the largest part of this text consists of
activities. These create opportunities for students and teachers first to examine the
basic elements that make up human rights – life, justice, freedom, equality and the
destructive character of deprivation, suffering and pain – and then to use them to work
out what they truly think and feel about a wide range of real-world issues.
The focus of human rights education is not just outward on external issues and events
but also inward on personal values, attitudes and behaviour. To affect behaviour and
inspire a sense of responsibility for human rights, human rights education uses
participatory methodologies that emphasize independent research, analysis and
critical thinking.
Rights and responsibilities
For the basic principles of a human rights culture to survive, people must continue to
see a point in defending them: “I have a right to this. It is not just what I want, or
need. It is my right. There is a responsibility to be met.” But rights stand only by the
reasons given for them and the reasons must be good ones. Unless people have the
chance to work out such reasons for themselves – and where better than at school? –
they will not claim their rights when they are withheld or taken away, or feel
responsibility to defend the rights of others. We have to see for ourselves why rights
are so important, for this in turn fosters responsibility.
It is, of course, possible to proceed the other way around: to teach for human rights in
terms of responsibilities and obligations first. But again, teachers will want to do more
than tell students what they ought to be doing. To bring these ideas alive, they will
create opportunities for students to truly understand and accept such social
responsibilities. Teachers and students will then have the principles and skills
required to resolve the inevitable conflicts of responsibilities, obligations or rights
when they arise.
Because these points of conflict can also provide useful insights, they should be
welcomed. They make the teaching of human rights dynamic and relevant. Conflict
offers the sort of learning opportunities that encourage students to face contrasts
creatively, without fear, and to seek their own ways of resolving them.
Teaching and preaching: action speaks louder than words
The fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the
Rights of the Child have virtual global validity and applicability is very important for
teachers. By promoting universal human rights standards, the teacher can honestly say
that he or she is not preaching. Teachers have a second challenge, however: to teach
in such a way as to respect human rights in the classroom and the school environment
itself. For learning to have practical benefit, students need not only to learn about
human rights but to learn in an environment that models them.
This means avoiding any hypocrisy. At its simplest, hypocrisy refers to situations
where what a teacher is teaching is clearly at odds with how he or she is teaching it.
For example: “Today we are going to talk about freedom of expression – shut up in
the back row!” In such circumstances, students will learn mostly about power, and
considerably less about human rights. As students spend a good deal of time studying
teachers and can develop a good understanding of teachers’ beliefs, a teacher who
behaves unjustly or abusively will have little positive effect. Often, because of a
desire to please, students may try to mirror a teacher’s personal views without
thinking for themselves. This may be a reason, at the beginning at least, for teachers
not to express their own ideas. At its most complex, hypocrisy raises profound
questions about how to protect and promote the human dignity of both teachers and
students in a classroom, in a school and within society at large.
The “human rights climate” within schools and classrooms should rest on reciprocal
respect between all the actors involved. Accordingly, the way in which decisionmaking processes take place, methods for resolving conflicts and administering
discipline, and the relationship within and among all actors constitute key
contributing factors.
Ultimately teachers need to explore ways to involve not only students, school
administrators, education authorities and parents in human rights education but also
the whole community. In this way teaching for human rights can reach from the
classroom into the community to the benefit of both. All concerned will be able to
discuss universal values and their relation to reality and to recognize that schools can
be part of the solution to basic human rights problems.
As far as the students are concerned, negotiating a set of classroom rules and
responsibilities is a long-tested and most effective way to begin (see the activity
Creating classroom rules in Chapter Two). Teaching practices that are compatible
with basic human rights provide a consistent model. In this way a sports or
mathematics teacher, for example, can also teach for human rights.
Dealing with difficult issues
Sometimes controversial and sensitive subjects come up when students begin to
examine human rights. Teachers need to remain constantly alert to student discomfort
and potential disagreement. Teachers should acknowledge that human rights
necessarily involve conflicts of values and that students will benefit from
understanding these conflicts and seeking to resolve them.
Sometimes teachers meet resistance to human rights education on the ground that it
imposes non-native principles that contradict and threaten local values and customs.
Teachers concerned about resistance from administrators should meet with them in
advance, share goals and plans for the class, and explain about the United Nations
human rights framework and related educational initiatives (such as the UN Decade
for Human Rights Education). Encourage administrators to visit a class – they may
themselves benefit from human rights education!
Pedagogical techniques for human rights education
The techniques suggested below and their application in the activities offered in
Chapters Two and Three illustrate how teachers can engage students’ empathy and
moral imagination, challenge their assumptions and integrate concepts like human
dignity and equality into their everyday experience of people, power and
responsibility. These techniques have proved especially appropriate for human rights
education because they encourage critical thinking, both cognitive and affective
learning, respect for differences of experience and opinion, and active engagement of
all participants in ongoing learning.
This technique can be used to seek solutions to problems that are both theoretical and
practical. It requires a problem to be analysed and then solutions to be developed.
Brainstorming encourages a high degree of participation, and it stimulates those
involved to maximum creativity.
Following presentation of a problem, all ideas in response to it are recorded on a
board or chart paper. All responses are recorded; no explanations are required and no
suggestions are judged or rejected at this stage. The teacher then categorizes and
analyses the responses, at which stage some are combined, adapted or rejected.
Finally the group makes recommendations and takes decisions on the problem.
Examples: “Message in a bottle” (p. 32); “Words that wound” (p. 41); “Identifying
some ‘minority groups’” (p. 47); “Housing” (p. 55); “Energy” (p. 57).
Case studies
Students in small groups work with real or fictional cases that require them to apply
human rights standards. Case studies should be based on credible and realistic
scenarios that focus on two or three main issues. The scenario for a study can be
presented to students for consideration in its entirety or “fed” to them sequentially as
a developing situation (the “evolving hypothetical”) to which they must respond. This
method encourages analysis, problem-solving and planning skills, as well as
cooperation and team building. Case studies can be used to set up debates, discussion
or further research.
Examples: “A journalist has disappeared!” (p. 32); “Packing your suitcase” (p. 34);
“When is ‘old enough’?” (p. 42).
Creative expression
The arts can help to make concepts more concrete, personalize abstractions and affect
attitudes by involving emotional as well as intellectual responses to human rights.
Techniques may include stories and poetry, graphic arts, sculpture, drama, song and
dance. Teachers do not need to be artists themselves but to set engaging tasks and
provide a way for students to share their creations.
Examples: “A ‘Who am I?’ book” (p. 21); “The lifeline” (p. 22); “Me on the
wall/ground” (p. 22); “Letters and friends” (p. 23); “Wants and needs” (p. 28); “What
does a child need?” (p. 28); “Promoting children’s rights” (p. 29); “They’re all alike”
(p. 45).
Many techniques exist for stimulating meaningful discussion in pairs, small groups or
the whole class. To create an environment of trust and respect, students might develop
their own “rules for discussion”.
Discussions can be structured in a variety of effective ways. Some topics are
appropriate to a formal debate, panel or “Fish Bowl” format (i.e. a small group
discusses while the rest of the class listens and later makes comments and ask
questions). Other topics are better suited to a “Talking Circle” (i.e. students sit in two
circles, one facing outward and the other inward. They discuss with the person sitting
opposite; after a period the teachers asks everyone in the inside circle to move one
place to the right and discuss the same topic with a new person). Personal or
emotional topics are best discussed in pairs or small groups.
To engage the whole class in a topic, the teacher might use techniques like a “Talk
Around” (i.e. the teacher asks an open-ended question like “What does dignity mean
to you?” or “I feel happy when ...” and each student responds in turn).
A lively method of representing discussion graphically is the “Discussion Web”.
Students sit in a discussion circle and speak one at a time. As they do, they pass a ball
of yarn along, letting it unwind in the process. Each person keeps hold of the string
whenever it passes through her or his hands. Eventually the group is linked by a web
of string, clearly showing the pattern of communication that has gone on within it.
Examples: “A circle for talking” (p. 21); “Me and my senses” (p. 22);
“Wishing-circle” (p. 22); “Planning for a new country” (p. 26); “Being a human
being” (p. 31); “Beginnings and endings” (p. 32); “Equality before the law” (p. 38);
“The right to learn your rights” (p. 53).
Field trips/ Community visits
Students benefit from the extension of school into the community, learning from
places where human rights issues develop (e.g. courts, prisons, international borders)
or where people work to defend rights or relieve victims (e.g. non-profit
organizations, food or clothing banks, free clinics).
The purpose of the visit should be explained in advance, and students should be
instructed to pay critical attention and to record their observations for a subsequent
discussion or written reflection following the visit.
Examples: “Councils and courts” (p. 36); “Who is not in our school?” (p. 51); “Food”
(p. 54); “Health” (p. 57).
Interviews provide direct learning and personalize issues and history. Those
interviewed might be family and community members, activists, leaders or eyewitnesses to human rights events. Such oral histories can contribute to documenting
and understanding human right issues in the home community.
Examples: “Councils and courts” (p. 36); “Once upon a time” (p. 44); “Speakers on
disability” (p. 51); “Speakers from the business community” (p. 60)
Research projects
Human rights topics provide many opportunities for independent investigation. This
may be formal research using library or Internet facilities or informational research
drawing on interviews, opinion surveys, media observations and other techniques of
data gathering. Whether individual or group projects, research develops skills for
independent thinking and data analysis and deepens understanding of the complexity
of human rights issues.
Examples: “Packing your suitcase” (p. 34); “Child soldiers” (p. 35); “Humanitarian
law” (p. 35); “Councils and courts” (p. 36); “An International Criminal Court”
(p. 39); “Identifying some ‘minority groups’” (p. 47); “Food” (p. 54); “Work” (p. 56);
“Energy” (p. 57).
Role-plays/ Simulations
A role-play is like a little drama played out before the class. It is largely improvised
and may be done as a story (with a narrator and key characters) or as a situation
(where the key characters interact, making up dialogue on the spot - perhaps with the
help of the teacher and the rest of the class). Role plays have particular value for
sensitizing students to the feelings and perspectives of other groups and to the
importance of certain issues.
Role plays work best when kept short. Allow enough time for discussion afterwards:
it is crucial for children to be able to express themselves about feelings, fears or
understandings after such activities, to maximize possible benefits and dissipate
negative feelings, if any. Teachers may need to discourage students from becoming
their role. Participants should be able to step back from what they are doing, to
comment perhaps, or to ask questions. Other members of the class should be able to
comment and question too, perhaps even joining in the role-play.
Variations on role plays include mock trials, imaginary interviews, simulation games,
hearings and tribunals. These usually have more structure, last longer and require
more preparation of both teachers and students.
Examples: “My puppet family” (p. 23); “Summit” (p. 34); “Councils and courts”
(p. 36); “Sorts of courts” (p. 37); “Working life” (p. 58); “A Model UN simulation”
(p. 61).
Visual aids
Learning can be enhanced by the use of blackboards, overhead transparencies,
posters, displayed objects, flip charts, photographs, slides, videos and films. As a
general rule, information produced on transparencies and charts should be brief and
concise, and in outline or list form. If more text is required, use hand-outs. However,
visual aids can be over-used and should never substitute for engaged discussion and
direct student participation.
Information content and levels of understanding of the students can be tested in
standard ways. However, assessing attitudes and attitude change is much harder
because of the subjective nature of the judgements involved. Open-ended
questionnaires given at repeated intervals are the simplest, but the impressions they
provide are fleeting at best.
It is equally difficult to evaluate whether the human rights climate of the school
community has improved. However, if indicators for success are carefully defined and
evaluation is done on a regular basis, changes in the school environment can be
monitored and responded to.
Engaging students in drawing up checklists to assess individual, classroom and school
community practices in human rights terms can be an important learning activity (see
“Taking the Human Rights Temperature of Your School”, p. 63).
Chapter Two
Human Rights Topics for Preschool and
Lower Primary School
Confidence and social respect
In preschool and lower primary education, teaching for human rights is aimed at
fostering feelings of confidence and respect for self and others. These are the basis for
the whole culture of human rights. This makes the teacher’s “teaching personality”
highly important. A supportive approach at all times will make every activity
meaningful, even those not specific to human rights teaching.
Stories are invaluable. Young children can learn lessons and morals and remember
them vividly if they are associated with a much-loved character in a well-told tale.
Such stories can be obtained from published literature on children’s’ tales, from
parents and grandparents or even by using one’s imagination.
A classroom library where resources are available may be useful. In selecting books,
it is important to obtain attractive volumes that feature both females and males as
multicultural, active and non-stereotyped characters. When reading to the class or
showing picture books, point out the good things they show or tell.
Where the resources exist, students can participate in cooking, a wood-work bench or
potting plants. These can be done as imagination games also. All activities should
involve both boys and girls. If disagreement arises concerning activities, the class
may need to make rules to equalize the situation and break down discriminatory
behaviour. Such rules become unnecessary with regular use. Equality can also be
improved by changing the way the classroom is arranged or how students line up. It is
important to avoid grouping children in ways that reinforce obvious differences. Try
to facilitate friendships between students as well as awareness that differences are
acceptable and natural.
Resolving conflicts
Conflicts often arise, and teachers need to develop a consistent strategy to address
them. It is imperative that a teacher remain open to discussion of conflict at all times.
Emphasize that a solution can be found to any problem. However, children need to
think about a problem in order to find a solution. The following shows a more
systematic approach to problem-solving:
Identify a problem and acknowledge it. Stop any physical or verbal activity
and ask the children involved to discuss their behaviour together.
Get a description of what happened. Ask the children involved and any
bystanders about the events that took place. Give everyone a turn to speak without
interruption. Positive encouragement, such as a touch or a hug where appropriate, can
also ease feelings of anger or guilt. However, it is essential to remain neutral at all
Explore a range of solutions. Ask those directly involved how this problem
can be solved. If the children cannot suggest solutions, the teacher can offer some
Reason out the solutions. Point out how more than one fair solution may often
exist. Encourage the children to think of the physical and emotional consequences of
these solutions and recall past experiences of a similar nature.
Choose a course of action. Seek a mutual agreement on one of the solutions
Carry out that action.
Confronting discrimination
In cases of discriminatory behaviour, solutions are not so easy to find. Usually neither
the insulted child nor the offending child has a clear understanding of discrimination.
The teacher’s actions are especially important in this situation. The teacher should
first strongly criticize the discriminatory behaviour and make clear that it is definitely
unacceptable. The teacher may offer clear support to the child who was the object of
the offence without criticism of his or her anger, fear or confusion, and be firm yet
supportive with the child who engaged in the discriminatory behaviour. Teachers
should help victimized children realize that negative responses to their gender,
appearance, disability, language, race or other aspects are due to unacceptable
prejudices; they should also examine with children who were involved and who
witnessed the situation the issues at stake. Discuss such incidents also with parents,
staff and members of the local community.
This method can be used at all school levels as well as in critical situations outside the
school environment. It can be applied to all discriminatory behaviour. Where
possible, ethnic diversity in the classroom should be acknowledged, understood and
even celebrated at every opportunity. It should be remembered that racism and sexism
are usually present in children at a very young age, so this method may be remedial.
Teachers should also be aware that they too may harbour discriminatory attitudes and
strive diligently to recognize and overcome them.
Care should also be taken to make the classroom and school accessible and
welcoming to children with disabilities.
The following strategies and activities offer ways to introduce human rights concepts
into early childhood education.
Appreciating similarities and differences
Children are seated in a circle. One child stands in the middle of the circle and makes
a statement that describes himself or herself. For example: “Is wearing a belt” or “Has
a sister”. Everyone who shares that attribute must change places, including the child
in the middle. Whoever is left without a seat becomes the person in the middle and
names the next attribute. Children will quickly see that they can be similar and
different in many ways. An interesting ending would be to choose a more intangible
attribute, such as: “People who are kind”. The game usually breaks down at this point
because it becomes more difficult to identify such attributes at a glance. Teachers may
wish to discuss how people usually recognize such behavioral attributes.
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC article 2)
In the same boat
The teacher explains that people sometimes don’t recognize ways in which they are
alike. Then the teacher names a category (e.g. month of birth, number of siblings,
kind of pet, favourite toy or game) and asks children to form a group with others who
share that category with them. Older children can respond to more complex categories
(e.g. number of languages spoken, career aspiration, hobby, favourite school subject).
The game concludes with the question “What did you learn from this activity?” and a
discussion of people’s unrecognized similarities and differences.
(UDHR article 2; CRC article 2)
Fostering confidence and self-esteem
Who am I and what am I like?
A “Who Am I?” book
Children begin a book about themselves, with a self-portrait on the cover. Personal
pictures, prose and poems can be collected in this book. As children learn to write,
they can put personal details, questions about themselves and answers to questions in
it too. If resources are limited, a book can be made for the whole class with a page or
two for each child.
(UDHR articles 3, 19; CRC articles 6,7,8,12,13, 30)
A circle for talking
Children sit in a circle that includes the teacher and any visitors. The teacher makes an
open-ended statement and each student answers in turn. Questions might be one or
more of the following:
What I like best about myself is ...
I’d like to be ...
My favourite game is ...
I think my name means ...
I would like to learn about ...
I feel happy when ...
I feel sad when ...
I want to become more ...
Some day I hope ... .
Listening without interrupting and sharing time equally are very important. Children
can “pass” if they do not wish to speak. Each person remains seated until the activity
is over. Answers can be included in the “Who Am I?” book(s).
(UDHR articles 18,19; CRC articles 8,12,13,14,17,31)
The lifeline
Each child stretches out a piece of yarn that represents his or her own life. Children
then hang on their yarn drawings, stories and objects that convey the important things
that have happened to them. This can be done in chronological sequence, or in any
order that the child may want. It can also be extended into the future.
(UDHR articles 1,3,19; CRC articles 6,8,12,13,14,27,30,31)
Me on the wall/ground
Trace the outline of each child on a large piece of paper (best done lying down) or on
the ground. Have the student draw/paint in physical details, and then write around
personal and physical qualities (e.g. name, height, weight, what the child would most
like to learn or do at school or in adulthood). If you have used papers, pin them up
around the wall. Allow all students to learn about each other as well as themselves.
(UDHR articles 3, 19, 24; CRC articles 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 28, 29, 31)
Me and my senses
Have children discuss in the circle, or use a role-play to explore the following
Hearing helps me to ...
Seeing helps me to ...
Smelling helps me to ...
Touching helps me to ...
Tasting helps me to ... .
Rephrase the questions, where appropriate, to suit the needs of children with
disabilities (e.g. “Not being able to see (very well? at all?) I’m still me, and I can . .
.”). Get each child to invent an instrument to help them hear, smell or touch better.
Have them describe, draw or dramatize it.
(UDHR articles 22, 25, 26; CRC articles 23, 26, 28, 29)
Arrange the students in a circle. Propose that each child in turn makes the following
wishes (this can also be done in small groups or pairs):
If I could be any animal, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a bird, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be an insect, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a flower, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a tree, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a piece of furniture, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a musical instrument, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a building, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a car, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a street, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a town/province/region, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a foreign country, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a game, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a record, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a TV show, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a movie, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be a food, I’d be ___ because ...
If I could be any colour, I’d be ___ because ... .
(UDHR article 19; CRC articles 13, 14)
How do I live with others?
My puppet family
Each child makes a family of puppets that includes one of him or herself. These can
be very simple, like cardboard cut-outs coloured and fixed to sticks or clay or mud
figures. The figures are named and their relationships described and explained. Each
child then devises a ceremony (a wedding, for example) or a festival, which is shown
to the others in the class. The puppet family can be extended to include other people
who live nearby. Children can dramatize something they do regularly with those
people in order to bring them together. Extend the activity to include individuals from
anywhere in the world.
(UDHR articles 16, 20, 27; CRC articles 9, 10, 15, 31)
Imaginary friend
The children sit or lie down quietly with their eyes closed. Tell them to breathe in
deeply and then breathe out slowly. Repeat two more times. Now tell them to imagine
a special place, a favourite place, anywhere in the world (or even in outer space). Say
that they are walking in that place – in their imagination – feeling and hearing and
seeing what is going on there. Lead them to a house or building they can visualize,
where they go in to find a special room. The room has a door in one wall that opens
by sliding up. The door slides up slowly, and as it does so, it reveals a special friend
they have never met before – first feet, and finally the face. This friend can be old or
young – anything. This friend is always there, and whenever they need someone to
talk to, to turn to, they can visit him or her again if they wish. Close the door, leave
the house and come home to the class. Let the children share what they have imagined
in a speaking circle or in pairs or groups.
(UDHR article 20; CRC article 15)
Letters and friends
Set up a letter or electronic mail exchange with another class in another school or
even another country. Initiate this exchange by sending poems or gifts from the class.
This may lead to a visit later if the distance allows, and a chance to meet the children
of the other community. Investigate the twin school:
• How big is it?
• What games are played there?
• What do the parents do?
• What are the differences and similarities?
(UDHR articles 19,20, 26; CRC articles 13, 17, 29)
Teachers should arrange for their students to have an older buddy from an upper class.
An activity should be arranged to encourage children to seek out the help of their
buddy if they have a problem. Ways should be devised to encourage the senior buddy
to take an interest in his or her small colleague by showing games and helping with
(UDHR article 20; CRC article 15)
People around me
Ask children in a talking circle to think of a good quality in themselves or ask “What
are some qualities we admire in people?”. Then lead a discussion on these topics:
• Do you respect in others the quality you like about yourself?
• Do you respect good qualities in others that you do not have?
• Do all human beings deserve respect? Why?
• How do you show respect for others?
Next ask children to think of a time when they felt hurt because someone did not
respect them.
• How did disrespect feel?
• Why do people sometimes act disrespectfully to others?
• What is dignity? Is your dignity hurt when others do not respect you?
• What can you do when others do not respect you?
Ask “What does it mean if we say that all human beings deserve respect?”
Ask for examples of how life in their community could be more peaceful
if people showed greater respect for each other.
• Ask children to think of one way they could show respect for someone.
(UDHR articles 1, 2, 12; CRC articles 2, 12, 13, 14, 16, 29)
The washing machine
Have the children form two parallel lines close together, and facing each other. Send a
child from one end between the lines (“through the wash”). Everyone (where this is
culturally appropriate) pats him or her on the back or shakes his or her hand while
offering words of praise, affection and encouragement. The result is a sparkling,
shining, happy individual at the end of the “wash”. He or she joins a line, and the
process is then repeated for another child. (Running one or two people through daily
is more fun than washing everybody in one big clean-up.)
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC article 2)
Building trust
Trust begins with teacher/student relationships. Putting students at ease involves:
• Letting the students know that the teacher is just as human as they are;
• Explaining each and every activity thoroughly;
• Explaining unfamiliar words and ideas (concepts);
• Providing information (not just about specific activities but also about
relevant issues touching students’ lives).
Where appropriate, the teacher should spend a few minutes of the day discussing local
events and news items from the media. This will provide many opportunities to look
at human rights issues in a less formal way. It can be an education in itself.
Blind trust
Divide the class into pairs. Have one child blindfold the other and have the sighted
member of the pair lead the “blind” one about for a few minutes. Make sure the
leading child is not abusing the power to lead, since the idea is to nurture trust, not to
destroy it. The “leader” of the pair should try to provide as wide a variety of
experiences as possible, such as having the “blind” partner feel things with his or her
feet or fingers, leading with vocal directions or even playing a game.
After a few minutes have the children reverse the roles and repeat the process so that
the “leader” is now the led, and the “blind” partner is now the sighted one.
Once the activity is over, allow the children to talk about what happened. Discuss
how they felt – not just as “blind” partners but their feelings of responsibility as
“leaders” too.
This can lead not only to a greater awareness of what life is like for people with sight
(or hearing) disabilities, but to a discussion of the importance of trust in the whole
community. This can lead in turn to a discussion of world society, how it works and
how it can fail to work too.
(UDHR article 28; CRC articles 3, 23)
Creating classroom rules
The importance of classroom climate and the need for participation and cooperation
cannot be emphasized enough. The children’s suggestions and opinions are also very
helpful in creating the best classroom atmosphere. Be open to their help and provide
necessary changes.
The next activity is very significant because it has a direct effect on classroom
climate. It clearly demonstrates a teacher’s willingness to involve the class in how the
classroom is run and her or his own trust in its members. It also makes children think
about what rules are desirable and possible in class, how they might be observed and
the teacher’s own role in maintaining the classroom environment.
Classroom needs
Classroom rules can be created in a number of ways: as a brainstorm (paring down the
results in subsequent discussion); in small groups that then present their findings to a
plenary session of the whole class; or as individual assignments that the teacher
collates for class consideration later.
A good way to begin is by asking children what they “want” (the list may become
quite long). Then ask them to choose from this list the items they think are really
needed. They should end up with something shorter and much more essential. List
these on a chart labelled “Our Classroom Needs”. Finally, ask them to choose from
their “needs” what they think they have a “right” to expect as members of society.
List these on a chart labelled “Our Classroom Rights”. Ask why they have chosen as
they have.
(UDHR articles 7, 21; CRC articles 12, 13, 28, 29)
Classroom responsibilities
Emphasize the essential connection between rights and responsibilities. After students
have created the list of classroom rights, ask them to rephrase each right in terms of
responsibilities and list these in a separate chart labelled “Our Classroom
Responsibilities” (e.g. “Everyone should feel safe in this room” might be revised as
“Everyone has the responsibility not to insult anybody or hurt anyone’s feelings”).
(UDHR article 29; CRC article 29)
Living with rights and responsibilities
Once the class has agreed on its lists of basic rights and responsibilities, display them
so that they can be referred to or amended as necessary. Sometimes children or the
teacher may break the rules or situations may arise that the rules do not address.
Sometimes conflicts may arise when classroom rules are not compatible with the rules
of other teachers or the school administration. These situations call for discussion and
careful consideration of why things are going wrong. Order achieved by general
consensus rather than simple control is always harder to get, and the process of
reaching this consensus calls for compromise and careful negotiation. Such a process
is itself a valuable learning experience.
(UDHR articles 7, 11, 21; CRC articles 12, 13, 28, 29)
Understanding human rights
Having arrived at some classroom rules, it is a natural next step to consider the same
sort of thing on a universal scale.
Planning for a new country
Explain that a new land has been discovered that has everything needed to sustain
human life. No one has ever lived there before. There are no laws and no history. The
whole class will be settling there. A small group has been appointed to draw up a list
of rights for this all-new country. You do not know what position you will have in the
new country.
Working in small groups, students in each group give this country a name and list ten
rights the whole group can agree upon. Each group presents its list and the whole
class makes a “class list” that includes all the rights mentioned. Discuss the class list
(e.g. what would happen if some rights were excluded? Have any important rights
been left out? How is this list different from your classroom rules?)
(UDHR articles 13, 21, 26; CRC articles 12, 13)
Introducing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Introduce the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, explaining that it is a list of
rights for all people in the world. Then read the simplified version aloud (see
annex 1). If students hear an article that matches one of the rights on the class list,
write the number of that article next to the right.
After completing the reading, discuss the results:
• Were any rights in the Universal Declaration left off the class list? Do
students now want to add any new rights to the list?
• Were any rights on the class list left out of the Universal Declaration?
• Does the Universal Declaration include responsibilities as well as rights?
Students might try similar exercises using a simplified version of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child.
(UDHR articles 21, 26; CRC article 29)
Introducing children’s rights
What are children’s rights?
Ask students whether there are rights and responsibilities that apply more specifically
to them, not just as people but as young people – as children. What might it be wrong
to do (or not to do) to someone just because he or she happens, at that point in time, to
be “a child”?
Introduce the Convention on the Rights of the Child, explaining that it guarantees to
children the things they need to grow up healthy, safe and happy and to become good
citizens in their community. Help children understand the relationship between needs
and rights.
Why do you think the United Nations has adopted a document just for
children’s human rights? How are children’s needs different from those of
Why do children need special protection? Give some examples?
Why do children need special provisions for their welfare. What do
children need for their survival, happiness and development?
Why do children need to participate in their communities? Give some
Who is responsible for seeing that children’s rights are respected? (e.g.
parents? teachers? other adults? other children? the Government?)
Wants and needs
Ask children working in small groups to create ten cards that illustrate things that
children need to be happy. They can cut pictures from old magazines or draw these
things. Help them label the cards. Each group explains and posts its cards under the
heading “Needs”.
Next announce that the new Government has found that it can only provide some of
the items on the list, so the group must eliminate ten items from the list of needs.
Remove the cards selected and post them under the heading “Wants”.
Then announce that still further cuts are required and the group must eliminate
another ten items and follow the same procedure.
Finally discuss this activity:
• What items were eliminated first? Why?
• What is the difference between wants and needs?
• Do wants and needs differ for different people?
• What would happen if the class had to go on eliminating needs?
Conclude by explaining that children’s rights are based on what all children need to
live a healthy, happy life and grow up to be responsible citizens. Introduce the
Convention on the Rights of the Child as an effort to make sure that all children have
these rights (see activity “What are children’s rights?” above). Older children might
read aloud the summarized version of the Convention (see annex 2) and compare it to
their list of wants and needs.8
What does a child need?
Working in small groups, students draw a large outline of a child (or outline one of
them) and give the child a name. They then decide on the mental, physical, spiritual
and character qualities they want this ideal child to have as an adult (e.g. good health,
sense of humour, kindness) and write these qualities inside the outline. They might
also make symbols on or around the child to represent these ideal qualities (e.g. books
to represent education). Outside the child, the group lists the human and material
resources the child will need to achieve these qualities (e.g. if the child is to be
healthy, it will need food and health care). Each group then “introduces” its new
member of the community and explains its choices for the child.
Introduce the Convention on the Rights of the Child (see activity “What are children’s
rights?” above). Then read aloud the summarized version of the Convention (see
annex 2). When children hear an article that guarantees a child each of the needs they
Adapted from It’s Only Right! A Practical Guide to Leaning about the Convention on the Rights of
the Child by Susan Fountain (UNICEF, 1993).
have listed, they write the number of the article(s) next to that item. Circle any needs
identified by the class but not covered by the Convention.
Promoting children’s rights
In some countries children’s rights are advertised by newspapers, radio and television.
Ask students working in small groups to make up some advertisements for particular
articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (e.g. posters, skits, songs or other
forms). Ask each group to perform or exhibit their ideas for the class as a whole.
Chapter Three
Human Rights Topics for Upper
Primary and Lower and Senior
Secondary School
A human rights culture attempts to define principles for the positive conduct of all
human behaviour. What follows are issues involved in realizing these principles.
Although only a few activities are described for each issue, they should provide
teachers with a start for developing their own activities. As some of these issues may
prove to be controversial, the teacher’s sensitivity and discretion are required.
Teachers who want to concentrate on specific issues (e.g. peace and disarmament,
world development, prisoners of conscience, minority peoples, anti-racism or antisexism) should present them in a human rights context. Students will then be able to
see that what they discuss is only one aspect of a larger framework involving many
other issues. This general understanding will provide breadth while the specific issue
will provide depth. Teachers who specialize in different aspects of human rights
should work side by side to provide understanding in depth.
Protecting life – the individual in society
To establish a clear sense of humanity as a composite of individuals, the teacher can
explore with students the concept of what being “human” means. This is a more
sophisticated form of the activities in Chapter Two on confidence and respect. Human
beings are social creatures; we have individual personalities, but we learn most things
by living with others. Hence work about the individual is work about society too.
Being a human being
Place a convenient object (e.g. an inverted wastepaper bin) before the class. Suggest
that it is a visitor from another part of the universe. This visitor is curious to learn
about the beings who call themselves “human”. Ask for suggestions that might help
the visitor identify us as “human beings”.
• What does it mean to be “human”?
• How is that different from just being alive or “surviving”?
(UDHR article 1; CRC article 1)
Message in a bottle
Ask students to imagine that signals have been received from outer space. The United
Nations is going to send information about human beings in a special ship. It is the
students’ job to choose what to send (e.g. music, models of people, clothing,
literature, religious objects). Brainstorm possibilities as a class, or set the activity as
an individual or small group project.
The questions at issue here – “What am I?”, “Who are we?” – are profound. The
activities above should provide an opportunity for students to begin to establish a
sense of themselves as human beings and an understanding of human dignity. This is
crucial if they are ever to see themselves as human agents, with a responsibility to
humanity in all its many and varied forms. Defining what is human in general helps
us to see what might be inhuman.
(UDHR article 1; CRC article 1)
Beginnings and endings
Human beings within societies are of the highest complexity. At the teacher’s
discretion, the class can look at the right to be alive as argued for at each end of an
individual’s life:
• Where does “life” begin?
• Could it ever be taken away?
• What kind of factors determine our opinions about what “life” means (e.g.
religion, technology, law)?
(UDHR article 3; CRC article 6)
“A journalist has disappeared!”
For the following case study the teacher’s discretion is advised. Provide the class with
the following details:
You are a journalist. You wrote a story in your newspaper that made
someone in a high position angry. The next day unidentified people broke
into your home and took you away. You were beaten and put in a room
alone. No one knows where you are. No one has offered to do anything.
You have been there for months.
This journalist has been deprived of a number of basic rights. Using the Universal
Declaration, ask the class to determine which specific articles have been violated.
Ask each student to draft a letter to the Minister of Justice concerned, mentioning
these rights, or an open letter to the journalist. Who else could be of assistance in this
case (introducing students to the role of civil society’s organizations)?
(UDHR articles 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12)
Protecting children
Look through the Convention on the Rights of the Child and list all the articles that
offer protection to children and the circumstances and specific forms of abuse and
exploitation that these articles mention.
• Are there others that you might add?
• Are some children more vulnerable and in need of protection than others?
Discuss responsibility for protecting children:
• According to the Convention, who has the responsibility for protecting
• Does the Convention give any order of priority for this responsibility?
• What happens when those responsible for protecting children fail to do so?
Research child protection in your community, using the list generated at the beginning
of this activity.
• What are children’s particular needs for protection in your community?
• What people or groups are providing protection for them?
• Are there ways you and your class can contribute to this protection?
• Why do you think that the rights of children needed to be expressed in a
special human rights treaty?
(CRC articles 2, 3, 6, 8, 11, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38)
War, peace and human rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was written in response to the
devastating events of the Second World War. In the Preamble, the Declaration states
that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which
have outraged the conscience of mankind” and stresses that “recognition of the
inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human
family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.
Peace, disarmament, development and human rights are interrelated issues. A
comprehensive approach to teaching for human rights is teaching for peace and
disarmament, as well as for development and environmental awareness.
Information on the arms race and on the attempts to control it could be provided to
students. The fact that there have been more than 150 conflicts since the end of the
Second World War shows that armed violence continues to be used. Depending on
the level of the class, a study of international political and economic issues would also
deepen students’ understanding of why peace is so hard to preserve. Developmental
imbalances and ecological problems are also endemic; they are not only violent in
themselves, but may contribute to sowing the seeds of war. And war – in particular
nuclear war – even on a small scale, can result in an environmental catastrophe.
Pick a fine day if possible. Pose the question: “In a world with local conflicts and the
threat of war, why do you think peace is important?”
Take the class outside, perhaps, to somewhere pleasant. Everybody lies on their backs
without talking and shuts their eyes for approximately three minutes. Resume the
class and discuss the fundamental value of peace. How would they define “peace”?
What is the relationship between peace and human rights?
(UDHR articles 1, 3, 28; CRC articles 3, 6)
Role-play a summit discussion between the leaders of all countries about a critical
issue, for example reduction in the use of land mines or the protection of children
from dangerous work. Stage a classroom debate on the topic, with groups working
together as the countries involved: some groups trying to ban these practices, some
groups refusing to ban. Compare, when feasible, the discussions that led to the
Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines (1997) or the Convention
Concerning the Prohibition of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (International Labour
Organization’s Convention No. 182, 1999). Emphasize that different countries and
people can work together in ways that allow all of us to live together in peace. (See
the activity A Model UN Simulation below for an alternative format.)
(UDHR article 28; CRC articles 3, 4, 6)
Packing your suitcase
One of the common results of war and oppression is the creation of refugees, people
who flee their home countries because of a “well-founded fear of persecution for
reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or
political opinion” (article 1.A.2 of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees,
Read this scenario:
You are a teacher in ___. Your partner disappears and is later found
murdered. Your name appears in a newspaper article listing suspected
subversives. Later you receive a letter threatening your life because of
your alleged political activities. You decide you must flee. Pack your
bag. You can take only five categories of things (e.g. toiletries,
clothing, photographs) and only what you can carry in one bag by
yourself. You have five minutes to make these decisions. Remember
that you may never return to your home country again.
Ask several students to read their lists. If they omit the newspaper article or the
threatening letter (the only concrete proof to offer authorities in the new country that
they are fleeing a “well-grounded fear of persecution”), say “Asylum denied”. After a
few such examples, explain the definition of a refugee and the importance of proof of
persecution. Discuss the experience of making emotional decisions in a state of
Research refugees in the world today:
• Where are the greatest concentrations of refugees?
• Where are they fleeing from and why?
• Who is responsible for caring for them?
(UDHR article 14; CRC article 22)
Child soldiers
In some parts of the world, boys and girls, even younger than ten years old, are
recruited to serve as soldiers. Often these children are kidnapped and forced into this
dangerous work, which can lead to death, maiming and alienation from their home
communities and society as a whole. A new Optional Protocol to the Convention on
the Rights of the Child bans the involvement of children in such armed conflict
(2000), as does the International Labour Organization’s Convention on the Worst
Forms of Child Labour (1999).
Why would armed forces want to use children in warfare?
What human rights of these children are being violated? Cite particular
articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
How might being a child soldier affect girls and boys differently?
If a child manages to survive and return to the home community, what are
some difficulties that she or he might face at first? In the short term? In the
long term?
Here are some ways in which students can take action or explore the issue further:
• Find out more about child soldiers in different parts of the world;
• Find out what organizations are working to rehabilitate former child
soldiers and offer them support;
• Write letters encouraging the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol
to the Convention on the Rights of the Child banning the involvement of
children in armed conflict.
(UDHR articles 3, 4, 5; CRC articles 3, 6, 9, 11, 32, 34, 36, 37, 38, 39)
Humanitarian law
Operating parallel to international human rights law is the complementary legal
system of international humanitarian law. Embodied in the Geneva Conventions of
1949, these so-called “rules of war” establish standards for the protection of wounded,
sick and shipwrecked military personnel, prisoners of war and civilians living in war
zones or under enemy occupation. Military forces in many countries train their
personnel in the Geneva Conventions, and the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) takes a global lead in educating the public in international humanitarian
law as well as in supplying humanitarian relief during armed conflicts.
However, the reality of modern warfare has changed. The combatants are no longer
just the armies of warring countries (international armed conflict) but also rebel
armies, terrorists or competing political or ethnic groups (non-international armed
conflict). Furthermore, most victims are no longer soldiers but civilians, especially
women, children and the elderly.
In many ways, the human rights framework and international humanitarian law
reinforce each other. For example, both show particular concern for children recruited
as soldiers and recognize the need for special protection for children in situations of
armed conflict.
Find out more about how human rights and humanitarian law apply in conditions of
• Research the history of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement and the Geneva Conventions. How have the original Geneva
Conventions of 1949 been adapted to address the conditions of modern
• Find out about the humanitarian work of the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) for victims of war. Compare the ICRC’s seven
fundamental principles (humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence,
voluntary service, unity and universality) with the principles of the
Universal Declaration.
• Compare the provisions for children in war situations in the Convention on
the Rights of the Child, the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention (the Geneva
Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War)
and the 1977 Additional Protocols. Why are both international human
rights law and international humanitarian law needed to protect children?
• Compare the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child regarding the involvement of children in armed conflict and article
77 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions regarding the
recruitment of children. Which is more effective? Are both needed? Do
you agree that a person of fifteen is old enough to serve as a soldier?
• Examine news reports of armed conflicts in the world today. Are the
Geneva Conventions being observed in this conflict? Is the UDHR being
(UDHR articles 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 21; CRC articles 3, 6, 22, 30, 38, 39)
Government and the law
Human rights are rights inherent in every human being. We can make moral claims
regardless of whether they are laid down by law. For example, all human beings have
a right to life, whether or not a law has been passed to endorse that right.
Laws, however, give moral claims legal force. In countries where rights have been
made into laws, we still need to know whether these laws are being fully put into
practice. Yet, turning moral claims into legal rights is an important first step.
Laws can also have an important educational effect. They define what a society
officially thinks it is proper to do, and they provide a specific expression of the
standards it thinks should be endorsed. They are there for all to see, and they stand
equally – in principle at least – above the leaders as well as the led.
Councils and courts
Laws are made by national law-making bodies. Students need to see the process of
law-making for themselves in order to answer these questions:
What is “the law”?
Who makes it? and
Arrange for a class visit to a regional or central chamber of the country’s parliament
in session so that students can watch its members at work. Discuss the three questions
above. Likewise, arrange a visit to a law-court to see not only laws being
administered but also decisions being made that set legal precedents which may
directly or indirectly affect future decisions. Discuss the same questions above.
If the suggested visits are not possible, or even if they are, organize the class into a
model parliament and arrange a debate on current issues or a mock trial to adjudicate
a local or national case at law. Encourage students to find suitable examples
To introduce an international dimension, teachers could have the class research the
decision-making processes of the United Nations and the issues currently discussed.
They could also review some cases brought before international commissions,
tribunals and courts. (See the activity An International Criminal Court below.)
You may also wish to invite a local political figure to talk to the class about the three
questions raised at the beginning of this activity, plus three more:
• Why are laws obeyed?
• How is “justice” done? And
• How is “fairness” achieved in government and the law?
Examine article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives children
the right to an opinion in matters that affect them. Has this right been recognized in
the courts of your country? How?
Are women given equal status before the law?
How many women are lawyers in your country? Magistrates? Judges?
Lawmakers in local or national legislative bodies?
• How do these numbers affect the way women are treated in law? (See the
activities Equality before the law and Making decisions below).
(UDHR articles 7, 8, 10, 12, 21, 40; CRC articles 12, 40)
Sorts of courts
Legislative processes can also be learned by arranging the class into an informal
court. The “disputants” can be in the middle, with their “friends” and “family” close
by and the rest of the class in a circle around them as a “village”. Appoint a
“magistrate” outside the circle as someone to be turned to only when the locals want
an outsider’s opinion. Have the disputants put their cases in turn, allowing everybody
to elaborate their points. The discussion should continue until a consensus verdict is
The issue to be dealt with can be chosen by the teacher with the students’ help.
Discuss afterwards how the “law” has worked here in both the formal and the
informal cases. Note how it may be impossible to find someone to blame, particularly
when each party has reasonable points to make.
(UDHR articles 8, 10; CRC articles 3, 12)
Equality before the law
Article 7 of the Universal Declaration begins: “All are equal before the law ...”.
However, this statement of principle is not always reflected in practice.
Are all equal before the law in your community, or are some people treated
in different ways?
• What factors might give some people an advantage over others?
• Why is equality before the law essential for a human rights culture?
(UDHR article 7; CRC article 2)
Comparing “rights” documents9
Point out that rights are guaranteed not only by international documents like the
Universal Declaration (UDHR) but also by regional, national and local law codes
such as national constitutions. Give students copies of the UDHR and any two other
documents and ask them to compare whether each contains the following rights and to
identify the relevant article(s):
1. Right to education
2. Freedom of expression (including the media)
3. Free choice of spouse
4. Equality of all persons, including women and minorities
5. Free choice of number of children
6. Freedom from torture and inhumane treatment
7. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
8. Right to own property
9. Right to own firearms
10. Adequate food
11. Adequate shelter
12. Adequate health care
13. Right to travel freely within and outside the country
14. Right to peaceful assembly
15. Right to clean air and water
What similarities and differences did you discover? How can you explain
Does your Constitution or local law include more or fewer rights than the
Did the writers of these documents seem to have the same concept of what
“rights” mean?
Do all documents contain responsibilities as well as rights?
Adapted from Teaching Human Rights by David Shiman (Center for Teaching International
Relations Publications, University of Denver, 1998).
Do citizens of your country have any rights besides those included in your
Constitution or local law?
• What happens when these laws conflict?
• What should be the limits and responsibilities of Governments in
guaranteeing their citizens certain rights? For example, is hunger or
homelessness a Government’s responsibility?
• Should any of the rights listed be guaranteed by all Governments?
(UDHR articles: all)
An International Criminal Court
At the international military trials held in 1945-1946 in Nuremberg and Tokyo, the
victorious Allies prosecuted individual German and Japanese officials for “crimes
against peace”, “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” committed in connection
with the Second World War.
Since that time, such crimes and massive human rights violations have been
committed in many other armed conflicts. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge killed an
estimated 2 million people during the 1970s. Thousands of civilians, including
horrifying numbers of unarmed women and children, lost their lives in armed
conflicts in Mozambique, Liberia, El Salvador and other countries. However,
international agreement to establish international courts to deal with such atrocities
could not be reached until the 1990s, when the conflict in the former Yugoslavia
erupted and war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – in the guise of
“ethnic cleansing” – once again commanded international attention. In 1993, the
United Nations Security Council established the ad hoc International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, to prosecute and punish individuals for those
systematic and massive human rights violations. Similarly, following the end of the
civil war that raged in Rwanda from April to July 1994, in which some 1 million
unarmed civilians were massacred, the Security Council established the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
History has shown that without the enforcement mechanism of an international
criminal court to deal with individual responsibility, acts of genocide and egregious
human rights violations often go unpunished. Such a court could provide a
complementary means by which to ensure that individuals can be prosecuted for
genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when the country in which such
crimes are perpetrated is unable or unwilling to prosecute. Also, such an institution
could deter grave crimes under international law from being perpetrated in future.
Accordingly, in 1998 government representatives met at a diplomatic conference in
Rome to formulate a statute for a permanent international criminal court. On 17 July
1998, the Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted: 120 Governments
voted in favour, 7 against and 21 abstained. The Statute entered into force in July
2002, having been ratified by at least 60 States, and the International Criminal Court
has now been set up in The Hague (the Netherlands).
The establishment of the International Criminal Court raises several important issues
and provides opportunities for student research and activity:
Why is such a Court needed? Can it be effective?
By what authority can the international community intervene in a
country’s internal matters, such as how a Government treats its own
citizens? Is this interference in domestic affairs? (A class activity could be
developed to discuss whether and when an international body has the right
to intervene in a country’s domestic affairs.)
• Find out more about the International Criminal Court (e.g. its rules of
procedure, the kind of cases it will deal with, etc. – the official web site of
the Court is http://www.icc.org). What will be the obligations of each
Government to cooperate with the International Criminal Court?
• For the International Criminal Court to be set up, its Statute had to be
ratified by at least 60 countries. Find out which countries have ratified it so
far. If your own country has not yet ratified, hold a debate about the pros
and cons of ratification. Send letters or petitions to your country’s
legislators urging your position(s) on ratification.
• Survey world history for examples of situations that might have been taken
to an international criminal court, if such a court had existed at the time.
(UDHR articles 7, 10, 11, 28; CRC articles 3, 40, 41)
Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression
Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion and expression is central to a
human rights culture. The Convention on the Rights of the Child gives these rights to
children based on their developing maturity (see activities Growing maturity and
When is old enough? below). These rights include the freedom to change religion or
belief; to hold opinions without interference; and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Frames of reference
Opinions may vary depending on whether we like what we see or not. This is
reflected in our choice of words. For example, a person can be described as “aloof” or
“independent”, “aggressive” or “assertive”, “submissive” or “prepared to cooperate”,
“more driven” or “less afraid of hard work”. Ask students to think of other
dichotomies of this sort.
Have students list in the most positive way possible five qualities about themselves
they really admire. Then put these into a negative frame of reference so that the same
things become hurtful instead of praiseworthy. Then do the reverse, first listing
possible negative qualities they do not particularly like about themselves, and then
using mirror words that make the list less offensive.
Another version of this activity is to ask students to list adjectives that generally
describe girls or boys. Then reverse the gender (e.g. qualities described as “energetic”
or “ambitious” in a boy might be considered “abrasive” or “pushy” in a girl).
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC article 2)
Words that wound
Article 13.2.a of the Convention on the Rights of the Child gives a child the right to
freedom of expression but specifically restricts expression that violates the rights and
reputations of others. Should limits be placed on what we can say about our thoughts
and beliefs? Should we always be able to say whatever we like? For the following
activity the teacher’s discretion is advised.
Give everyone slips of paper and have them write down hurtful comments they hear
at school, each on a separate paper. Make a scale on the wall ranging from
“Teasing/Playful” to “Extremely Painful/Degrading”. Ask students to put their words
where they think they belong on the scale (alternatively, papers can be collected and
read by the teacher in order to ensure that inputs remain anonymous – students would
then put them on the scale). Then ask everyone to examine the wall silently. Usually
the same words will appear several times and almost always rated at different degrees
of severity.
Discuss this experience: ask students to categorize the words (e.g. appearance, ability,
ethnic background, sexuality).
• Are some words only for girls? For boys?
• What conclusions can be drawn about abusive language from these
• Why did some people think a particular word was very painful and others
find it playful?
Divide the class into small groups and give each group several of the words
considered most painful. Ask someone in each group to read the first word or phrase.
The group should accept that this is a hurtful comment and discuss (1) whether people
should be allowed to say such things (2) what to do when it happens. Repeat for each
word or phrase.
Finally discuss with the class the rights and responsibilities involved in abusive
• Does a teacher have a responsibility to stop hate speech at school?
• Do students have a responsibility to stop it in their own lives? If so, why?
• What can you do in your community to stop hate speech?
• Why is it important to do so?
(UDHR articles 1, 2, 18, 19; CRC articles 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 29)
Growing maturity
The Convention on the Rights of the Child gives children the right to freedom of
thought, conscience and religion, according to their growing maturity. Ask students to
debate when a young person is sufficiently mature to practice a religion or hold
political views that differ from those of the family, culture or tradition. Who should
(CRC article 14)
The right to privacy
Article 16 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child gives a child the right to
protection from interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence and from
libel or slander. However, like many other rights guaranteed to children in the
Convention, the extent to which it can be exercised depends on the child’s “evolving
capacity”. Certainly a seven-year-old is not ready to have the same rights and
responsibilities as a seventeen-year-old.
When is “old enough”?
Read the following story to the class:
Eku and Romit met when they sat side by side at primary school. They
soon became best friends, but their friendship had a problem. Their
families belonged to different social groups that had a long history of
distrust. So when Romit asked if Eku could visit, both parents firmly
refused. Eku’s family spoke to the teacher and had the friends seated
separately. However, their friendship continued until Eku was sent
away to finish secondary school in another town. The friends promised
to write, but whenever a letter from Eku arrived, Romit’s parents
destroyed it before Romit could even open it. Romit understands his
parents’ feelings but also thinks that at sixteen you are old enough to
choose your own friends and entitled to have letters kept private.
What rights does Romit have according to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child?
• How can Romit’s “evolving capacity” be determined?
• What rights do Romit’s parents have?
Strategize how this conflict might be resolved.
(UDHR article 12; CRC articles 5, 16)
The freedom to meet and take part in public affairs
How does a community maintain itself and flourish? In part, by having its members
meet together and organize their affairs. These freedoms make communal
involvement very important. Their denial would deprive a society of one of its richest
resources: the skills and talents of its own people.
Habits of communal participation can be fostered throughout a student’s schooling.
Opportunities for community service outside the school can also become the basis for
a lifelong contribution to social and political affairs. Many schools have student
councils that allow participation in their affairs, though the adult hierarchy usually
limits what can be done in practice.
A human rights club
A direct experience of working together for something worthwhile may be achieved
from having the class form a club to promote human rights. The teacher can initiate a
number of relevant tasks aimed at establishing such a club:
• Define the purpose of the Human Rights Club in more detail;
• Hold a competition for a Club symbol;
• Make individual membership cards that carry this logo;
• Organize office-holders;
• Put up a special noticeboard for Human Rights Club activities;
• Find out about national and international human rights networks and
organizations with whom the club can liaise; ask for their publications and
display these where people can use them;
• Begin holding meetings – the first could discuss the right to freedom of
association itself: “Why organize? Why it is important to take part in
public affairs, locally, nationally and beyond?”
• Invite guest speakers (e.g. local politicians, issue specialists, area
specialists) to give short talks and hold discussions;
• Set up sub-committees to meet and to research particular tasks;
• Commemorate International Human Rights Day, 10 December; find out
about other International Days related to human rights and commemorate
A group could approach other classes with offers to speak to them about particular
human rights issues/areas, explaining why the club was formed and what it does, and
offering associate membership; where resources permit, the Club could also publish a
regular newsletter.
(UDHR articles 20, 21; CRC article 15)
Social and cultural well-being
The Universal Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child provide for
people to rest, learn, worship as they choose, share freely in the cultural life of the
community and develop their personalities to the full. Schools should give students
access to the arts and sciences of their region and the world and foster respect for the
child’s cultural identity, language and values, as well as those of others. They should
also teach human rights issues using multicultural examples from different historical
Much of a sense of personal and social well-being is derived from the family.
Families take the form most relevant to the culture and economy in which its
members live, ranging from single-adult units in separate enclaves to extended
kinship systems that embrace whole communities. Article 18 of the Convention on the
For practical ideas, see “More than 50 Ideas for Commemorating the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights”, available at http://www.ohchr.org or through the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights. A list of International Days is also available on the web site or
through the Office.
Rights of the Child recognizes the joint primary responsibility of both parents for
bringing up their children and article 20 provides for special protection for children
without families, either in an alternative family or in an institution.
Most activities in the school curriculum are relevant to this topic. Discussions could
perhaps begin with the process of education itself. Education (as opposed to
schooling) is a lifelong affair and a truly comprehensive one, since every generation’s
culture must be learned again if it is not to disappear. (See also the activity Cultural
identity below.)
Once upon a time ...
Invite a few grandparents to come and talk to the students about what they were
taught as children and whether it served them well in later life. What rights now
guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child did they lack in their
Ask them how they would foster the full development of the human personality, what
they have learned about strengthening respect for human rights and freedoms, how
they would further understanding and mutual respect between different human groups
and nations and what makes for justice and peace.
(UDHR articles 19, 27; CRC articles 29, 31)
A family map
Have students map their family as it stands at the moment (teachers should be
sensitive to the possibility of adoption cases in their classroom). Compare and discuss
eventual differences:
• How is their family life different from that of their great-grandparents?
Their grandparents? Their parents?
• What has caused these changes? Are they changes in values, culture,
technology or others kinds of change? Which are beneficial and which are
• Have the human rights of family members improved over the last
(UDHR articles 16, 19, 27; CRC articles 5, 29, 31)
No person is more of a human being than another and no person is less. Essentially
we are all equal, and equally entitled to our human rights.
Equal, yes, but not identical – a fact that leads people to draw lines across the human
map and to draw attention to differences they believe to be important. When lines are
established that not only separate groups but suggest that one group is superior or
inferior simply because of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion or
national or social origin, this is discrimination.
Gender is among the most common bases for discrimination. Since it coincides with a
biological dichotomy built into our species itself, it can be very hard for people to see
past such a difference to our deeper identity. Being different in some ways does not
make us different in all ways. Having different bodies that do different things does not
mean that our human rights should be different too.
Another pernicious form of discrimination is colour or race. A particular difference is
repeatedly over-emphasized to hide our common humanity.
No teacher can avoid the issue of discrimination. Human equality, and the lifechances and life-choices it promotes, does not just happen. It has to be taught, not
least by exploring stereotyped attitudes and prejudices, by helping students to
understand that they can be competent and caring, and by providing appropriate and
accurate information.
This is a process of questioning that never ends. It is important to be informed about
socio-economic and political issues and how they work. However, it is even more
important for teachers to be aware of the biases and discriminatory attitudes that they
themselves, like all people, harbour. The individual teacher bears a heavy personal
responsibility of self-examination, for unless prejudices are recognized, they will
persist and influence a generation of young people.
Discrimination – stereotypes
In confronting stereotypes, point out the danger of encouraging their opposite. Insist
that any grain of truth there may be in a stereotype is just that – a grain. Alternatively,
ask the class about occasions on which they may have heard such expressions as
“They’re all alike, aren’t they” or “That lot are all the same”.
They’re all alike
Give each student a small stone or some other ordinary object, such as a potato, and
ask them to become “friends” with it – really get to know it. Ask a few to introduce
their “friend” to the class, and to tell a story about how old it is, whether it is sad or
happy, or how it got its shape. They can write essays on the subject, songs or poems
of praise. Then put all the items back in a box or bag and mix them up together. Tip
them out and have the students find their “friend” from among the common lot.
Point out the obvious parallel: any group of people seem to be alike at first, but once
you get to know them, they are all different, they all have life-histories and they are
potentially all friends. This means, however, suspending any stereotypes (like “rocks
are cold and hard and indifferent”) long enough to get to know them. It means not
prejudging them.
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC article 2)
Spot the difference
Present the following statements:
1. I like doctors because they are always kind.
2. 1 like the fact that some doctors are kind to me.
3. Doctors are a kind lot.
Discuss which is the stereotype (No. 3), which is the prejudice (No. 1), and which is
merely the statement of opinion (No. 2). Point out how all three statements (as mental
frames of reference) will make it harder to appreciate doctors not only as kind and
caring people, but as cross and impatient ones too! Discuss how stereotype, prejudice
and opinion predetermine attitudes.
(UDHR article 2; CRC article 2)
Discrimination – colour or race
Racism is the belief that there are human groups with particular (usually physical)
characteristics that make them superior or inferior to others. Racist behaviour can be
not just overt, such as treating some people according to their race or colour, but also
covert, when society systematically treats groups according to some form of
discriminating judgement.
Racist behaviour often results in racial discrimination, with its obvious negative
consequences, ranging from simple neglect, or the avoidance of those believed to be
different and inferior, to more explicit forms of harassment, exploitation or exclusion.
A good source to examine is the International Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
Skin colour is one of the most arbitrary ways of discriminating between people that
humankind has ever devised. As an exercise, ask students to plan a multiracial society
where they are destined to live, without knowing in advance what their own skin
colour will be.
The non-racist classroom
There are many ways of making the classroom a place of acceptance and of
multiracial celebration. Cultural factors influence a student’s responses, such as how
much eye contact he or she finds comfortable, how receptive he or she is to group
learning strategies, or his or her style of dramatic play or story-telling. If and when
there is a racial conflict in the class, deal with it; do not dismiss it. Teach your
students how to recognize behaviour that may reinforce racism. Study the stories of
famous people who have fought against discrimination. Study the contributions made
by people from all parts of the world to the common stock of human knowledge and
experience. Introduce as much cultural diversity as possible into the curriculum. Ask
parents or other relatives or friends to help in this regard. Invite people of other races
or colours who are active in community work to speak to the class about what they
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC article 2)
Discrimination – minority group status
The concept of a “minority group” is confused with the concepts of “ethnicity” and
often “race”, and when it is, earlier activities are relevant here as well. The term is a
loose one, and has also been used to describe indigenous peoples, displaced peoples,
migrant workers, refugees and even oppressed majorities. Often common to these
groups is poverty. A minority group may cease to be a “minority group” if it becomes
powerful enough.
The members of minority groups are entitled to their individual human rights, but
they usually claim certain rights as members of a group as well. Depending on the
particular group, these might include claims for cultural and political selfdetermination, land, compensation for dispossession, control of natural resources or
access to religious sites.
Identifying some “minority groups”
Help the class develop a definition of “Minority group”.
• Are they always in a minority mathematically?
• In what ways do minorities usually differ from the majority or dominant
Brainstorm with the class a list of contemporary “minority groups”, starting with the
local community. Be sure to include minorities based on class, ability, sexual
orientation and other non-racial factors. Do these minority groups experience
discrimination? In what ways?
Seniors students could eventually do case studies to find out about the size, location,
history, culture, contemporary living conditions and key claims of specific minority
• What are some circumstances that create minority groups in a population
(e.g. indigenous peoples, immigrants, refugees, migrant workers)?
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC articles 2, 29, 30)
Cultural identity / cultural diversity
Everyone has a cultural identity, of which they are often unconscious because it is so
much a part of them. However, in countries with ethnic, religious or linguistic
minorities or minorities of indigenous origin, cultural identity often becomes a human
rights issue, especially when a more powerful group seeks to impose its culture on
less powerful groups.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child pays particular attention to a child’s right
to his/her cultural identity. Article 29 guarantees a child an education that develops
respect for his or her culture, language and values. Article 30 recognizes a child’s
right to participate fully in cultural and artistic life, and article 31 especially
recognizes the right of children of minority communities and indigenous populations
to enjoy their own culture and practise their religion and language.
UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity emphasizes the link between
cultural identity and diversity: “Culture takes diverse forms across time and space.
This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the
groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and
creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for
nature” (article 1).
Examine your own community.
• Are there cultural minorities?
• Is their culture respected?
• Do they participate freely and publicly in their culture, or are they
expected to do so only privately or not at all?
• Does your school encourage respect for the culture of minority groups?
Why is the right to cultural identity so important? Why is it important to
preserve, develop and appreciate different cultures?
• Why do dominant groups often seek to impose their culture on minority
(UDHR article 26; CRC articles 29, 30, 31)
(c) Minority group speakers
Invite members of a particular “minority group” to speak in class. Prepare students by
helping them to recognize their stereotyped expectations and to prepare useful
questions. How can students best participate in promoting justice, freedom and
equality in these particular cases?
(UDHR article 26; CRC articles 29, 30)
Discrimination – gender
Article 2 of the Universal Declaration proclaims the validity of human rights “without
distinction of any kind”. It goes on to make specific mention of a number of labels
that are used to draw arbitrary lines between peoples. One of these is sex, and there is
good reason to be specific, since sex discrimination (“sexism”) remains one of the
most pervasive sources of social injustice.
Sexism, like racism, may involve every aspect of culture and society. It is reflected in
people’s attitudes, many of them unconscious, which further that discrimination. To
deny one sex full enjoyment of human rights is in effect to imply that that sex is not
fully human.
Sex or gender?
Explain the difference between sex (biologically determined factors) and gender
(culturally determined factors). Divide students into two teams and ask each to make
a list of differences between males and females, some based on sex (e.g. adult men
have beards; women live longer) and others based on gender (e.g. men are better at
mathematics; women are timid). Each team in turn reads one of its characteristics and
the panel must decide whether it is a difference based on sex or gender. Of course,
disagreements will arise (e.g. are men naturally more aggressive?) but the resulting
discussion will help students to recognize their own gender stereotypes. Examine the
classroom, textbooks, media and community for examples of gender stereotyping.
(UDHR article 2; CRC article 2)
Who’s who?
Have students survey the books and other materials they encounter at school:
• Are there the same number of references to males and females?
• Are female characters shown as brave decision-takers, physically capable,
adventurous, creative and interested in a wide range of careers?
• Are male characters shown as humane, caring people, who can be helpful,
who express their emotions, who are free of the fear that others might not
think them “manly”?
• Do the men and women respect each other as equals?
• Do the men take an active part in parenting and housekeeping tasks?
• Do the women take an active role outside the home and, if so, in other than
traditionally female occupations (e.g. teachers, nurses, secretaries) or
unpaid or poorly paid jobs?
(UDHR article 2; CRC articles 2, 29)
Gender bender
Take a familiar story (e.g. from a novel, film, TV series or folk tale) and retell it with
the gender of the characters switched. Discuss the effects of this gender switch.
(UDHR article 2; CRC article 2, 29)
What I like/What I do11
Ask students to write out answers to these questions about themselves:
Three things that my sex is supposed to do that I like.
Three things that my sex is supposed to do that I don’t like.
Three things that I would like to do or be if I were of the other sex.
Ask students to share their lists with a partner of the same sex. Then ask each pair to
share with a pair of the opposite sex (or in same-sex classrooms, with another pair).
Discuss the results. How does this community respond to people who don’t conform
to gender expectations? Do gender expectations limit people’s human rights?
(UDHR article 2; CRC article 2)
Making decisions
Ask students to brainstorm some important decisions a family has to make that affect
all its members. Next to each decision, write whether it is made mainly by men,
women or a combination. Discuss the differences in the kinds of decisions that males
and females make in the family.
Next ask students to list some important decisions affecting the whole population that
were made in their community in the last few years (e.g. starting a new club or team,
building or closing a hospital, allotting a land, increasing bus fares). Assign each
small group one of these decisions to analyse:
Adapted from Local Action/ Global Change: Learning about the Human Rights of Women and
Girls by Julie Mertus, Nancy Flowers and Mallika Dutt (UNIFEM, 1999).
What are the gender implications of these decisions? Do they have any
particular impact on women and girls? On men and boys?
• Next to each decision, write the name of the group that made the decision
and the approximate percentage of males and females in that group.
• How might the decision be different if the decision-making group were
composed of an equal number of males and females?
(UDHR articles 2, 21; CRC articles 2, 12)
The non-sexist classroom
Most of the suggestions made for the non-racist classroom (See “Discrimination –
colour or race” above) can be adopted to promote a non-sexist one. Seek help from
wherever possible in breaking down gender stereotypes. Never allow exclusion based
on sex. Always ask: what is fair? Acquaint students with the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
Research has shown that teachers themselves can be potential sources of
discrimination against girls, giving more attention to boys and calling on boys to
speak twice as often as girls. In many classrooms boys are praised for their curiosity
and assertiveness while girls are praised for their neatness, promptness and ability to
follow instructions. Most teachers in these studies were unaware of their preference
for boys and dismayed by the evidence.
The media, especially advertisements, provide good material for gender analysis. A
close scrutiny of the school curriculum and textbooks is also advised (and see the
activity Who’s who? above).
• Does “history” give serious attention to the role of women as well as men?
• Does “economics” discuss women in the labour market (home or outside
the home)?
• Does “law” look at women and property?
• Does “government” look at female under-representation?
• Does “science” give due weight to what women have done?
• Are girls encouraged to excel at mathematics, science and computers?
• How sexist is the teaching of “literature”, “language and “the arts”?
Examine too the extra-curricular life of the school:
• Are girls given equal opportunities for leadership in clubs and elected
offices? For representing the school publicly?
• Are there school-sponsored activities from which girls are excluded?
• Do girls have the same access to sports facilities and athletic teams as
• Do girls feel safe from sexual harassment or physical threats at school?
• Are prizes, scholarships, financial assistance and other awards equally
available to girls?
(UDHR articles 2, 26; CRC articles 2, 29)
Discrimination – disability
Practical work in the community outside school with people who are physically or
intellectually disadvantaged is the best activity if students want to understand the
issues involved.
Speakers on disability
Invite people with particular disabilities to speak to the class. They can explain the
difficulties they encounter, the lessons they have learned as a result and what their
specific rights might be. Stress the fact that people with disabilities are human first
and disadvantaged second.
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC articles 2, 23)
One school for all
Have the class examine the school and its environment and work out how accessible it
is to people with particular disabilities.
What changes would they recommend?
What could your school do to promote the Declaration on the Rights of
Disabled Persons and the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded
Persons, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1975 and 1971 respectively?
(UDHR articles 1, 2; CRC articles 2, 23)
The right to education
Although everyone has the right to education, many never receive an education that
fulfills article 29 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and fosters “[t]he
development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to
their fullest potential” (CRC, article 29.1). Millions of children never have the
opportunity to attend school at all. Many factors exclude them, such as their social
status, their sex, or poverty which forces them to work to survive. Lack of education
also limits their ability to enjoy other human rights.
Who is not in our school?
Ask students to consider what young people are not represented in their school, for
• many girls or boys?
• children with physical disabilities?
• children with mental disabilities?
• children who have been in trouble with the law or the school authorities?
• children who are orphaned?
• homeless children?
• children who are parents and/or are married?
children of migrant workers?
refugee children?
children of minority groups in the community?
poor children whose families need them to work?
For each group mentioned as absent from their school, ask:
• Why don’t these children attend this school? Should they? Why or why
• Do they attend school elsewhere?
• What about children who cannot physically attend a school? How do they
get an education?
If some children named attend different schools, ask:
• Why do these children attend a different school from yours?
• Where is this school? Can children get there easily?
• Must families pay for their children to attend this school? What if the
parents cannot afford this alternative school?
• Do you think children get a good education there?
Ask how the right to education can be made available to those children who do not
attend school (e.g. poor children whose families need them to work; girls who marry
or have children while still of school age). Whose responsibility is it to ensure that
they receive an education?
If possible, have students research and perhaps visit some schools for students with
special needs. Have students discuss or write about whether these alternative schools
meet the standards of the Convention of the Rights of the Child regarding the child’s
right to education. What can they do to advocate for the rights of all children to an
(UDHR article 26; CRC articles 28, 29)
What if you couldn’t read?
Ask students to make a list of all the times they read something in a normal day: at
home, at school, in the community or anywhere. They should include such
“unconscious reading” as that done while using a computer, watching television and
walking in the neighbourhood.
Ask students to compare their lists and discuss:
• How would your life be affected if you couldn’t read?
• What activities would you be unable to do or do well?
• How could illiteracy affect the health, safety and security of you and your
• How would you be affected if you couldn’t read and you were a
- Mother? / Father?
- Factory worker?
- Agricultural worker?
Shop owner?
Education as a human right
The right to education illustrates the principle of the interdependency of human rights.
Ask the class to consider each of the thirty articles of the UDHR and/or the
summarized version of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and ask “How
would your ability to enjoy this right be different if you had no education?” (e.g.
UDHR article 21, the right to participate in government and in free elections; or CRC
article 13, freedom of expression)
Point out that, in the year 2000, of more than 850 million illiterate adults in the world,
nearly two thirds were women. In addition, among the approximately 113 million
children in the world who are not benefiting from primary education, 60 per cent are
girls.12 Ask students to explain these statistics. How does this fact affect the human
rights of women and girls?
The right to learn your rights
Explain that education about and for human rights is itself an internationally agreed
human right (see Chapter One of this booklet). Ask students:
• What do people need to know about human rights?
• Why is human rights education important? Do some people need it more
than others? If so, who? And why?
• How should human rights be taught?
• How do human rights differ from other school subjects? (e.g. they involve
action as well as knowledge)?
• How can students themselves learn about human rights?
(UDHR article 26; CRC articles 17, 29)
Development and the environment
Where do you live? Everywhere, the issues of development, human rights and the
environment are interdependent, since development is meant to be people-centred,
participatory and environmentally sound. It involves not just economic growth, but
equitable distribution, enhancement of people’s capabilities and widening of their
choices. It gives top priority to poverty elimination, integration of women into the
development process, self-reliance and self-determination of people and
Governments, and protection of the rights of indigenous people.
The strong link between human rights and development has figured prominently in
United Nations deliberations for more than half a century. In 1986, the right to
development was made explicit in article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on the
Right to Development, which states that “the right to development is an inalienable
UNESCO, “Education for All Year 2000 Assessment”.
human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to
participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political
development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully
realized”. The right to development includes:
• full sovereignty over natural resources
• self-determination
• popular participation in development
• equality of opportunity
• the creation of favourable conditions for the enjoyment of other civil,
political, economic, social and cultural rights.
Students may have a different understanding and experience of these issues,
depending on the part of the world in which they live.
Teachers working with students who live daily under conditions of material
deprivation may want to base their activities on the realities at hand and relate them as
closely as possible to those of the world system. They may want to consider the
prospects for progressive development and the steps necessary to achieve it.
Teachers working with materially privileged students may want to foster their
responsiveness to claims for development and self-determination and to provide
practical examples of how to facilitate them. Students may research the role of
international cooperation by non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental
agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations
Environmental Programme in fostering the right to development and the environment.
Ask students to keep a record of everything they eat and drink in a day. Analyse what
they learn in terms of what their bodies need to survive and grow (i.e. carbohydrates,
fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins and water).
Choose one meal and trace its components back to the people who produced,
processed, transported and prepared them. This study might be combined with field
trips to the sources that supply local markets and grocery stores.
Choose something from the daily diet – preferably something unfamiliar – that grows
readily nearby. Have the class, working in pairs, grow an example of it in a can, pot or
school garden. Determine why some students have more success with their plants than
others. Invite someone with a good knowledge of gardens or crops to talk to the class
about plant care. Start a class garden in which all students can work and share the
produce. Hold brainstorming sessions to discuss possible improvements. For example,
is the method of cultivation the most suitable? Are there other ways of controlling
pests? How could the system of sharing the work be made more efficient and
Parallels could be drawn between the class work and the situation in other parts of the
world. A school in an urban area might try to arrange with a school in a rural area to
exchange visits and share particular experiences (in this case, their respective
relationships to food production and distribution).
(UDHR article 25; CRC articles 24, 27)
Fresh water is scarce in the world and becoming even scarcer. Students who live in an
arid area will be fully aware of this condition. Have the students calculate how much
water they use in a day by making a chart that indicates drinking, washing, etc. Have
them research where the water they use comes from.
Water carries wastes and organisms that cause diseases. Sanitary water management
(both supply and disposal) is essential to communal well-being. Have the students –
singly or in small groups – research the water supply and disposal system of their
school and suggest how it might be improved. This can be done for the whole
community as well. Who, if anyone, is responsible for the safety of the water they
(UDHR article 25; CRC articles 24, 27)
An adequate standard of living
Adequate food and water are basic development priorities. Article 25 of the Universal
Declaration includes specific reference to food as part of the right to a standard of
living adequate for health and well-being. Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights
of the Child further guarantees every child the right to a standard of living adequate
for her or his physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. These rights
in turn are a concern of such bodies as the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)
and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and have a
bearing also on national security and world peace.
Ask students to research the minimum requirements for food and water necessary for
survival and for well-being. What happens when a child lacks a standard of living
adequate for full development?
Assign students countries with contrasting levels of development to research using
United Nations statistics from publications such as UNICEF’s State of the World’s
Children or the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development
Report. Have each student present a profile of an average person from that country
(e.g. life expectancy, income, diet, and access to clean water). Discuss the effects of
such differences on the development of individuals as well as nations and regions.
Teachers of materially privileged students might ask them to find out about poverty in
their own communities. Discuss who bears responsibility for protecting people from
the effects of poverty.
(UDHR articles 23, 25; CRC articles 6, 27)
Houses directly reflect such things as local climate and geography, family structure
and status, cultural and religious preferences and the availability of building materials.
Brainstorm with the class a list of all the things that a house should have and then get
them to design one that has these features. Have them describe and explain the
features of what they have designed.
How does the design reflect their values and culture?
How might local house designs be modified and improved to conserve
resources like water and power, and to minimize pollution?
What could be the specific needs of family members with physical
If there are homeless people in the community, discuss and research who is homeless
and why.
• Who has responsibility for the homeless?
• Is homelessness a human rights issue?
• What can be done to address it?
(UDHR article 25; CRC article 27)
In many parts of the world, the effects of population growth are very clear. In other
areas they is less obvious. The impact of this phenomenon is universal, however.
Statistics show how the world population is expanding at an exponential rate and how
this growth will affect the environment and competition for resources. It is important
for students to think about population growth and the issues behind it.
The topic of population also provides opportunities to discuss conflicting rights and
the relationship of the individual to the State. Ask students to research and debate the
policies of different States on family size, either encouraging or discouraging many
• Do these policies conflict with individual rights?
• If so, how should these conflicts be resolved?
(UDHR article 16)
As the world economy changes, so does the nature of the world’s work. In
industrialized countries, for example, industrialization brought urbanization, with
fewer people now living in the country and producing agricultural products. In large
cities a greater number of people work in service industries. Where there is not
enough work to employ all those looking for jobs, people tend to move around the
world to improve their economic opportunities. Migration patterns both within and
between countries are often related to work, as are patterns of economic development.
Countries should endeavour to integrate their agricultural, industrial, financial and
trade policies so as to maximize the productive capacity of their people.
As part of becoming adult, many students will already be investigating different types
of work. Bringing a wide range of working people into the classroom helps to broaden
students’ awareness. Even better, take students into different work environments so
that they can actually see what is involved. If possible, ask the students what areas of
work interest them and organize field trips.
Of particular interest are issues relating to child labour: should children’s working
age, hours of work and kind of work be regulated? The practical and moral issues
involved provide important areas for reflection and research. Students might compare
the 1999 Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (No. 182) of the
International Labour Organization (a United Nations agency specialized in human and
labour rights) with the provision of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Examination of child labour and labour practices can generally also lead students to
explore the subject of consumer responsibility and the connection between human
rights and global trade practices. (See “Business and Human Rights” below).
Student projects on work (e.g. patterns of local, national and international
employment; how “work” is changing at one or all of these levels; how “workers”
organize to protect their rights) can produce important learning outcomes.
Conventions, recommendations and reports of the International Labour Organization
provide useful information about work and human rights.
(UDHR articles 23, 24; CRC articles 31, 32, 36)
Doing anything takes energy. The more you do, the more you need. Brainstorm with
the class all the possible sources of energy, such as sunlight, food, coal, gas and
electricity. Ask students to record all the forms of energy they use in a day. Trace
where each comes from and how it gets to those who use it. Is it a “renewable”
source? Discuss the environmental effects of these forms of energy as well.
Make an energy inventory of the school. Are there ways in which energy is wasted?
Make suggestions for saving energy. The same procedure could also be applied to the
home, the community, the region and the whole world.
Set group projects to design – even build – devices which can provide energy for the
community. What is available locally that can be used for this purpose: wind? sun?
water? fossil fuels? wastes?
(UDHR article 25; CRC article 27)
Health is a fundamental human right, and a basic goal of global development.
Numerous resolutions of the World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations
agency specialized in this area, have reaffirmed this goal and the need to reduce the
gross inequalities in the health status of the world’s people. The planning and the
implementation of primary health care requires both individual and collective action
to ensure that while health is provided for all, most resources go to those most in
need. Exploring local, national and global health care systems suggest diverse and
interesting projects. Most countries include health education in their school curricula,
providing students with basic information about nutrition, physiology and the causes
and prevention of disease. A local doctor or visiting health worker can be a good
resource as a guest speaker or for relevant facts and ideas. Arrange field trips to
hospitals and community health projects.
The general topic of health also raises other important human rights issues:
discrimination against girls in health care, the health implications of child labour and
child marriage, the right to information about reproductive health, the negative effects
of environmental pollution and malnutrition, and the positive effects of education on
(UDHR articles 2, 19, 25; CRC articles 2, 3, 17, 24, 17, 28)
Economic development and interrelatedness
The Universal Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child contain a
number of articles that affirm the rights of human beings to a decent standard of
living. Whether these are realized or not is a complex issue which depends also on
national resources, industrial development, economic priorities and political will. The
achievement of economic development – which has both national and international
implications – clearly has a bearing on the implementation of those rights.
The world’s resources and its disposable wealth are unevenly distributed. Why is this
so? Any adequate answer would have to describe and explain the geography and the
history of world society and of its political economy as a whole.
Ask students to search through newspapers and news magazines for articles that
describe how another part of the world is having an impact on the local community or
how their country is having an impact on another part of the world (e.g.
environmental, economic, health or political problems; exchanges of food, fashion,
music or other forms of culture; migration; imports or exports, especially of food or
resources). Ask the class to make some categories for the kind of links they have
found (e.g. trade, culture, tourism, environment) and label each article with the
relevant category.
Post a map of the world and ask students to group their articles around it by category.
Draw a line with arrows or stretch a piece of yarn between the country of origin and
the country impacting or being impacted by it.
• Which parts of the world had the most links? The least? Why?
• What kinds of links were most frequent?
• What does this activity show about our global interdependence?
(UDHR articles 13, 19; CRC article 17)
Working life
Describe a working environment (e.g. a factory, a plantation or a farm) where the
workers have decided to make a number of requests to the owners or managers. They
want more say in how the place is run. They also want better wages, better provision
for sickness and injury, more attention to workplace safety, the chance to set up an
education programme and longer rest periods.
Form the class into two groups: workers and officials. Have them negotiate, each side
sending delegates who report back. Refer students to the conventions of the
International Labour Organization for the relevant information on workers’ rights.
Then repeat the activity but reverse the roles.
(UDHR article 23; CRC article 32)
Effects webs
Young people today need to understand the world as a complex web of
interdependent relationships and appreciate the delicate balance among the parts of
that web, so that changing any one part affects the whole. For example, environmental
pollution in one place can affect food chains, health, living conditions and livelihoods
in many other places. Issues too are interrelated. Poverty may be caused by many
factors, and any efforts to eradicate poverty must consider all of them.
To help students appreciate the complexity of these interrelationships, divide the class
into an even number of small groups and assign each a statement, with at least two
groups receiving the same statement. These sentences should express either a fact
(e.g. “In ___ at least 30 per cent of the population is infected with the HIV-AIDS
virus”) or a “what if” statement (e.g. “What if women owned as much property as
men”). Each group writes its statement at the top of a piece of chart paper. Below the
statement, they should write three consequences of that statement (e.g. “The parents
of many children will die”, “Many children will be born infected with HIV-AIDS”,
“National health care services will be overburdened by so many sick people”). Then
below each of these three statements, write three consequences resulting from each
(e.g. “The parents of many children will die” might lead to “Families and social
services will be overburdened caring for orphaned children”, “There will be fewer
workers available”, “There will be many children without parents to raise them
properly”). The result is a graphic web of effects that could be developed even further.
Ask groups with the same statement to compare and discuss their work. Display the
charts and make a “gallery walk” so students can explain their webs to other members
of the class.
Discuss the human rights implications of these webs and how single issues affect
many aspects of society and many different countries.
(UDHR article 28; CRC article 3)
Speakers on development issues
Invite someone involved in development issues to speak to the class, perhaps under
the auspices of its Human Rights Club. Prepare for the visit by giving students
background information and helping them formulate questions for the speaker. Follow
up by assigning class groups to study aspects of what was discussed (e.g. geographic
areas, specific sections of the community, special issues that affect everyone, such as
modernization, bureaucratization, globalization, urbanization and changes in cultural
(UDHR articles 19, 25; CRC articles 6, 27)
Business and human rights
At its inception in the mid-twentieth century, the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the developing human rights framework mainly addressed how
Governments behaved toward their citizens. However, with the emergence of the
global economy, many businesses today surpass Governments in their finances,
power and influence over the lives of people. While Governments are legally
accountable to their citizens, businesses, especially those that operate in many
different countries around the world, have little legal public accountability, except to
their stockholders. As a result, these transnational corporations are increasingly at the
centre of human rights issues.
Should businesses be accountable?
Discuss these issues:
• In what ways could a large transnational business violate the human rights
of its employees? Of people in general?
• In what ways could such a business use its influence to promote human
• Why might it benefit a business to adhere to human rights standards? Why
might that be a disadvantage?
• Should a business be accountable for observing human rights standards?
• How can citizens and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) put
pressure on businesses to adhere to human rights standards?
(UDHR article 28; CRC articles 3, 6)
A corporate code of conduct
Some businesses have responded to the growing pressure to conform to human rights
standards by creating corporate codes of conduct to be used by all their companies
and business partners.
Imagine you have been hired by a large transnational corporation (e.g. a garment
manufacturer, an oil company) to help them draft a code of conduct. Working in small
groups, draft a list of principles that the businesses should follow in all aspects of its
work. Include human rights, labour practices and environmental considerations.
Compare all the drafts and combine them to create a final document.
You might want to compare your list with “The Global Compact”, a list of principles
launched by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 1999 (available at
http://www.unglobalcompact.org or by contacting the United Nations).
(UDHR articles 3, 28; CRC articles 3, 6)
Speakers from the business community
Invite representatives from local business associations (e.g. chamber of commerce,
Rotary Club, bankers or merchants association) as well as public authorities and nongovernmental organizations involved in fair/ethical trade initiatives, to discuss how
local commerce is affected by the global economy and to explain their view on
corporate accountability for human rights.
(UDHR articles 19, 23, 25; CRC articles 3, 6, 17, 27)
Understanding the United Nations
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that education “shall
... promote the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace”. A
Model United Nations, a simulation of the UN system in which students assume the
roles of “ambassadors” of the UN Member States, is a powerful educational tool to
help students understand the limitations and potential of the United Nations.
Most Model United Nations programmes are based on three distinct steps:
Preparation: Students research three basic subjects:
The UN and its work;
The Government, policies and interests of a UN Member State;
The global issues on the agenda.
The research and study should lead to the development of a “position paper” or
resolution and a negotiation strategy for the assigned Member State.
Participation: The research comes to life as students become “ambassadors” of
Member States and practice the skills of public speaking, listening, time management,
negotiation and consultation.
Evaluation: Careful debriefing and assessment is essential to bring the
exercise to a close. Some criteria should be developed for success in each aspect of
the simulation (e.g. research, presentation, negotiation).
The role of the teacher is not that of an expert but a guide who can assist students with
research and analysis. The following is a simplified version of a Model United
Nations activity. See the Resource List in Annex C for further information about
Model UN Programmes. Contact the World Federation of United Nations
Associations for further information about Model UN Programmes (see annex 4).
A Model UN simulation
Select a few current issues of global importance for students to focus on. Assign
individuals or groups of students to represent and research a variety of UN Member
States. Explain that the goals of their research are to understand the assigned country
and how it would regard the key issues.
When students have had time to complete their research, ask each “ambassador” to
write a resolution for the “General Assembly” on one of the key issues of importance
in their country or region. The resolution should include a detailed description of the
problem and a plan to improve the situation, including what role the UN should play.
Students will need to convince others that their resolution benefits everyone and
deserves to be considered. Encourage students to compare their resolutions and begin
to seek supporters and/or co-sponsors. Explain that they need to be prepared to amend
their resolutions and build consensus to get them passed.
Hold a mock UN Forum. Seat students in a circle with the names of their countries in
front of them. The teacher or a capable student serves as “Secretary-General”.
Establish some rules of order for the forum (e.g. each person is addressed as “The
Ambassador from ___” ; no one may speak unless recognized by the “SecretaryGeneral”).
The “Secretary-General” calls for resolutions to be presented, debated, questioned and
voted upon. After discussion on a potential resolution, anyone may move that the
resolution be put to the vote. For a motion to pass, it must be seconded by any other
“ambassador”. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass a resolution.
Conclude the simulation with a written or oral evaluation, including both a selfevaluation and an assessment of what students learned about the UN and its role in
world affairs.
(UDHR articles 1, 28, 30; CRC article 3)
Creating a human rights community
One of the ultimate goals of human rights education is the creation of a genuine
human rights culture. To do so, students must learn to evaluate real-life experience in
human rights terms, starting with their own behaviour and the immediate community
in which they live. They need to make an honest assessment of how the reality they
experience every day conforms to human rights principles and then to take active
responsibility for improving their community.
Taking the human rights temperature of your school13
Ask students to evaluate their school’s human rights climate, i.e. take its
“temperature”, by completing the survey below. Record and discuss their findings:
• In which areas does your school seem to be promoting human rights
• In which areas do there seem to be human rights problems?
• How do you explain the existence of such problematic conditions? Are
they related to discrimination? To participation in decision-making? Who
benefits and who loses/suffers from these human rights violations?
• Have you or any other members of the community contributed to the
existing climate, either to improve or to worsen it?
• What needs to be done to improve the human rights climate in your
Develop an action plan as a class, identifying goals, strategies and responsibilities.
Adapted from Social and Economic Justice: A Human Rights Perspective by David Shiman
(University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center, 1999).
Taking the human rights temperature of your school
Directions: Read each statement and evaluate how accurately it describes your school
community. Keep in mind all members of your school: students, teachers,
administrators, staff. Add up your score to determine the overall assessment for your
Don’t know
Members of the school community are not discriminated against because of
their race, sex, family background, disability, religion or life style.
(UDHR articles 2, 16; CRC articles 2, 23)
My school is a place where I am safe and secure.
(UDHR articles 3, 5; CRC articles 6, 37)
All students receive equal information and encouragement about academic and
career opportunities.
(UDHR articles 2, 26; CRC articles 2, 29)
My school provides equal access, resources, activities and accommodation for
(UDHR articles 2, 7; CRC articles 2)
Members of my school community will oppose discriminatory actions,
materials or words in the school.
(UDHR articles 2, 3, 7, 28, 29; CRC articles 2, 3, 6, 30)
When someone violates the rights of another person, the violator is helped to
learn how to change her/his behaviour.
(UDHR article 26; CRC articles 28, 29)
Members of my school community care about my full human as well as
academic development and try to help me when I am in need.
(UDHR articles 3, 22, 26, 29; CRC articles 3, 6, 27, 28, 29, 31)
When conflicts arise, we try to resolve them in non-violent and collaborative
(UDHR articles 3, 28; CRC articles 3, 13, 19, 29, 37)
The school has policies and procedures regarding discrimination and uses them
when incidents occur.
(UDHR articles 3, 7; CRC articles 3, 29)
In matters related to discipline, everyone is assured of fair, impartial treatment
in the determination of guilt and assignment of punishment.
(UDHR articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; CRC articles 28, 40)
No one in our school is subjected to degrading treatment or punishment.
(UDHR article 5; CRC articles 13, 16,19, 28)
Someone accused of wrong-doing is presumed innocent until proved guilty.
(UDHR article 11; CRC articles 16, 28, 40)
My personal space and possessions are respected.
(UDHR articles 12, 17; CRC article 16)
My school community welcomes students, teachers, administrators and staff
from diverse backgrounds and cultures, including people not born in this
(UDHR articles 2, 6, 13, 14, 15; CRC articles 2, 29, 30, 31)
I have the liberty to express my beliefs and ideas without fear of discrimination.
(UDHR article 19; CRC articles 13, 14)
Members of my school can produce and disseminate publications without fear
of censorship or punishment.
(UDHR article 19; CRC article 13)
Diverse perspectives (e.g. gender, race/ethnicity, ideological) are represented in
courses, textbooks, assemblies, libraries and classroom instruction.
(UDHR articles 2, 19, 27; CRC articles 17, 29, 30)
I have the opportunity to participate in cultural activities at the school and my
cultural identity, language and values are respected.
(UDHR articles 19, 27, 28; CRC articles 29, 30, 31)
Members of my school have the opportunity to participate in democratic
decision-making to develop school policies and rules.
(UDHR articles 20, 21, 23; CRC articles 13, 15)
Members of my school have the right to form associations within the school to
advocate for their rights or the rights of others.
(UDHR articles 19, 20, 23; CRC article 15)
Members of my school encourage each other to learn about societal and global
problems related to justice, ecology, poverty and peace.
(UDHR Preamble, articles 26, 29; CRC article 29)
Members of my school encourage each other to organize and take action to
address problems related to justice, ecology, poverty and peace.
(UDHR Preamble, articles 20, 29; CRC article 29)
Members of my school community are able to take adequate rest/recess time
during the school day and work reasonable hours under fair work conditions.
(UDHR articles 23, 24; CRC articles 31, 32)
Employees in my school are paid enough to have a standard of living adequate
for the health and well-being of themselves and their families.
(UDHR articles 22, 25; CRC article 27)
I take responsibility in my school to ensure that people do not discriminate
against others.
(UDHR articles 1, 29; CRC article 29)
Possible temperature =
Your school’s temperature =
100 human rights degrees
____ human rights degrees
Just a beginning…
ABC: Teaching Human Rights is a beginning, not an end. It contains proposals, not
prescriptions. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion and ideas and thus to help children
to develop an objective, basic understanding of rights and obligations, so as to apply
human rights principles to the fullest extent of our human existence.
This booklet is intended to empower and inspire teachers, motivating them to find the
most effective teaching methods and strategies for integrating human rights into the
curriculum and culture of their schools. Teachers are encouraged to seek out other
human rights educators and to form networks for sharing ideas and experiences.
However, all human rights education efforts share some basic features:
• A core value system of universal human rights principles, such as human
dignity and equality;
• A content rooted in central human rights documents, such as the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the
• An acceptance of the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of
human rights;
• An awareness of the interrelationship between human rights and individual
and State responsibilities;
• An understanding of human rights as an evolving process, responsive to
the developing understanding of human needs, and the role of citizens and
non-governmental organizations in bringing their concerns to the
international arena. For example, in 1948 when the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights was adopted, few people were concerned about
environmental pollution. Now clean air and water are increasingly viewed
as a basic human right and international legal instruments to address
environmental concerns are under discussion.
Last but not least, students need to recognize that human rights are not about
violations occurring to other people somewhere else. Human rights concern the right
of all people, in all their diversity, to achieve “the full development of the human
personality” in a “social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set
forth in [the Universal] Declaration can be fully realized” (UDHR, articles 26 and 28).
Encourage students to consider how they might best use what they have learned to
promote and protect human rights in their own communities. Such action would build
upon many of the activities in this booklet that provide for practical application of
human rights principles in the society at large. It would consolidate those lessons and
guide students in building the skills they need to make a contribution outside the class
and school, both now and in adult life.
Annex 1
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)
This plain language version is given only as a guide. For an exact rendering of each
principle, refer students to the original. This version is based in part on the translation
of a text, prepared in 1978 for the World Association for the School as an Instrument
of Peace, by a Research Group of the University of’ Geneva under the responsibility
of Prof. L. Massarenti. In preparing the translation, the Group used a basic vocabulary
of 2,500 words in use in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Teachers may adopt
this methodology by translating the text of the Universal Declaration into the
language in use in their region.
Plain language version
Original text
Article 1
When children are born, they are free and each
should be treated in the same way. They have
reason and conscience and should act towards
one another in a friendly manner.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and
rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and
should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2
Everyone can claim the following rights, despite
- a different sex
- a different skin colour
- speaking a different language
- thinking different things
- believing in another religion
- owning more or less
- being born in another social group
- coming from another country.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set
forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind,
such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or
other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or
other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on
the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international
status of the country or territory to which a person
belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-selfgoverning or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
It also makes no difference whether the country
you live in is independent or not.
Article 3
You have the right to live, and to live in freedom
and safety.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of
Article 4
Nobody has the right to treat you as his or her
slave and you should not make anyone your
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and
the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5
Nobody has the right to torture you.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6
You should be legally protected in the same way
everywhere, and like everyone else.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a
person before the law.
Article 7
The law is the same for everyone; it should be
applied in the same way to all.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any
discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are
entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in
violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to
such discrimination.
Article 8
You should be able to ask for legal help when the Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the
rights your country grants you are not respected. competent national tribunals for acts violating the
fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by
Article 9
Nobody has the right to put you in prison, to keep No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or
you there, or to send you away from your country exile.
unjustly, or without a good reason.
Article 10
If you must go on trial this should be done in
public. The people who try you should not let
themselves be influenced by others.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public
hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the
determination of his rights and obligations and of any
criminal charge against him.
Article 11
You should be considered innocent until it can be
proved that you are guilty. If you are accused of a
crime, you should always have the right to defend
yourself. Nobody has the right to condemn you
and punish you for something you have not done.
1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to
be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to
law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees
necessary for his defence.
2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on
account of any act or omission which did not constitute a
penal offence, under national or international law, at the
time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty
be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time
the penal offence was committed.
Article 12
You have the right to ask to be protected if
someone tries to harm your good name, enter
your house, open your letters, or bother you or
your family without a good reason.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with
his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to
attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the
right to the protection of the law against such interference
or attacks.
Article 13
You have the right to come and go as you wish
within your country. You have the right to leave
your country to go to another one; and you
should be able to return to your country if you
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and
residence within the borders of each State.
2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including
his own, and to return to his country.
Article 14
If someone hurts you, you have the right to go to
another country and ask it to protect you.
1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other
countries asylum from persecution.
You lose this right if you have killed someone
and if you yourself do not respect what is written
2. This right may not be invoked in the case of
prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes
or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the
United Nations.
Article 15
You have the right to belong to a country and
nobody can prevent you, without a good reason,
from belonging to another country if you wish.
1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality
nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Article 16
As soon as a person is legally entitled, he or she
has the right to marry and have a family. Neither
the colour of your skin, nor the country you come
from nor your religion should be impediments to
doing this. Men and women have the same rights
when they are married and also when they are
separated. Nobody should force a person to
marry. The Government of your country should
protect your family and its members.
1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation die
to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and
to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to
marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and
full consent of the intending spouses.
3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of
society and is entitled to protection by society and the
Article 17
You have the right to own things and nobody has
the right to take these from you without a good
1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as
in association with others.
2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18
You have the right to profess your religion freely, Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience
to change it, and to practise it either on your own and religion; this right includes freedom to change his
religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in
or with other people.
community with others and in public or private, to
manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice,
worship and observance.
Article 19
You have the right to think what you want, and to Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
say what you like, and nobody should forbid you expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions
without interference and to seek receive and impart
from doing so.
information and ideas though any media and regardless of
You should be able to share your ideas – also
with people from any other country.
Article 20
You have the right to organize peaceful meetings 1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful
or to take part in meetings in a peaceful way. It is assembly and association.
wrong to force someone to belong to a group.
2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Article 21
You have the right to take part in your country’s
political affairs either by belonging to the
Government yourself of by choosing politicians
who have the same ideas as you.
Governments should be voted for regularly and
voting should be secret. You should get a vote
and all votes should be equal. You also have the
same right to join the public service as anyone
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government
of his country, directly or through freely chosen
2. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service
in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority
of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic
and genuine elections which shall be by universal and
equal suffrage and shall be held by secrete vote or by
equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22
The society in which you live should help you to
develop and to make the most of all the
advantages (culture, work, social welfare) that
are offered to you and to all the men and women
in your country.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social
security and is entitled to realization, through national
effort and international co-operation and in accordance
with the organization and resources of each State, of the
economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his
dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23
You have the right to work, to be free to choose
your work, and to get a salary that allows you to
live and support your family. If a man and a
woman do the same work, they should get the
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of
employment, to just and favourable conditions of work
and to protection against unemployment.
same pay. All people who work have the right to
join together to defend their interests.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to
equal pay for equal work.
3. Every one who works has the right to just and
favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his
family an existence worthy of human dignity, and
supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions
for the protection of his interests.
Article 24
Each work day should not be too long, since
everyone has the right to rest and should be able
to take regular paid holidays.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including
reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic
holidays with pay.
Article 25
You have the right to have whatever you need so
that you and your family: do not fall ill; do not go
hungry; have clothes and a house; and are helped
if you are out of work, if you are ill, if you are
old, if your wife or husband is dead, or if you do
not earn a living for any other reason you cannot
Both a mother who is going to have a baby and
her baby should get special help. All children
have the same rights, whether or not the mother
is married.
1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate
for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,
including foods, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services, and the right to security in the
event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances
beyond his control.
2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care
and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of
wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Article 26
You have the right to go to school and everyone
should go to school. Primary schooling should be
free. You should be able to learn a profession or
continue your studies as far as you wish. At
school, you should be able to develop all your
talents and you should be taught to get on with
others, whatever their race, their religion or the
country they come from. Your parents have the
right to choose how and what you will be taught
at school.
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be
free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.
Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and
professional education shall be made generally available
and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on
the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of
the human personality and to the strengthening of respect
for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall
promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among
all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the
activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of
education that shall be given to their children.
Article 27
You have the right to share in your community’s
arts and sciences, and in any good they do. Your
works as an artist, a writer or a scientist should be
protected, and you should be able to benefit from
1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the
cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to
share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral
and material interests resulting from any scientific,
literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Article 28
To make sure that your rights will be respected,
there must be an “order” that can protect them.
This “order” should be local and worldwide.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in
which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration
can be fully realized.
Article 29
You have duties towards the community within
which your personality can fully develop. The
law should guarantee human rights. It should
allow everyone to respect others and to be
1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone
the free and full development of his personality is
2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone
shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined
by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition
and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of
meeting the just requirements of morality, public order
and the general welfare in a democratic society.
3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised
contrary to the purposes and principles of the United
Article 30
No society and no human being in any part of the Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as
world should act in such a way as to destroy the
implying for any State, group or person any right to
engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the
rights that you have just been reading about.
destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth
Annex 2
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1989
Unofficial summary of main
The States Parties to the present Convention,
The preamble recalls the basic
principles of the United Nations and
specific provisions of certain relevant
proclamations. It reaffirms the fact
that children, because of their
vulnerability, need special care and
protection, and it places special
emphasis on the primary caring and
protective responsibility of the family.
It also reaffirms the need for legal
and other protection of the child
before and after birth, the importance
of respect for the cultural values of
the child’s community, and the vital
role of international cooperation in
securing children’s rights.
Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in
the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the inherent
dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of
the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace
in the world,
Bearing in mind that the peoples of the United Nations have, in
the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights
and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have
determined to promote social progress and better standards of life
in larger freedom,
Recognizing that the United Nations has, in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenants
on Human Rights, proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled
to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction
of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political
or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other
Recalling that, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the
United Nations has proclaimed that childhood is entitled to special
care and assistance,
Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society
and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all
its members and particularly children, should be afforded the
necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its
responsibilities within the community,
Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious
development of his or her personality, should grow up in a
family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love
and understanding,
Considering that the child should be fully prepared to live
an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of
the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations,
and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance,
freedom, equality and solidarity,
Source: UNICEF.
Bearing in mind that the need to extend particular care to the
child has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the
Rights of the Child of 1924 and in the Declaration of the
Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations on
20 November 1959 and recognized in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights (in particular in articles 23 and
24), in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights (in particular in article 10) and in the
statutes and relevant instruments of specialized agencies and
international organizations concerned with the welfare of
Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the
Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and
mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care,
including appropriate legal protection, before as well as
after birth”,
Recalling the provisions of the Declaration on Social and
Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of
Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and
Adoption Nationally and Internationally; the United Nations
Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile
Justice (“The Beijing Rules”); and the Declaration on the
Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and
Armed Conflict,
Recognizing that, in all countries in the world, there are
children living in exceptionally difficult conditions, and that
such children need special consideration,
Taking due account of the importance of the traditions and
cultural values of each people for the protection and
harmonious development of the child,
Recognizing the importance of international co-operation for
improving the living conditions of children in every country,
in particular in the developing countries,
Have agreed as follows:
Article 1
Definition of a child
For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means
every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under
the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
A child is recognized as a person
under 18, unless national laws
recognize the age of majority earlier.
Article 2
1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth
in the present Convention to each child within their
jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective
of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race,
colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion,
national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or
other status.
All rights apply to all children without
exception. It is the State’s obligation
to protect children from any form of
discrimination and to take positive
action to promote their rights.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure
that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination
or punishment on the basis of the status, activities,
expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal
guardians, or family members.
Article 3
Best interests of the child
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by
public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law,
administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best
interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
All actions concerning the child shall
take full account of his or her best
interests. The State shall provide the
child with adequate care when
parents, or others charged with that
responsibility, fail to do so.
2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such
protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being,
taking into account the rights and duties of his or her
parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally
responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all
appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services
and facilities responsible for the care or protection of
children shall conform with the standards established by
competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety,
health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as
competent supervision.
Article 4
Implementation of rights
States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative,
administrative, and other measures for the implementation
of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With
regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties
shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of
their available resources and, where needed, within the
framework of international co-operation.
The State must do all it can to
implement the rights contained in the
Article 5
Parental guidance and the child’s
evolving capacities
States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and
duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the
extended family or community as provided for by local
custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible
for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the
evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and
guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized
in the present Convention.
The State must respect the rights and
responsibilities of parents and the
extended family to provide guidance
for the child which is appropriate to
her or his evolving capacities.
Article 6
Survival and development
1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent
right to life.
Every child has the inherent right to
life, and the State has an obligation to
ensure the child’s survival and
2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent
possible the survival and development of the child.
Article 7
Name and nationality
1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and
shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire
a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be
cared for by his or her parents.
The child has the right to a name at
birth. The child also has the right to
acquire a nationality and, as far as
possible, to know his or her parents
and be cared for by them.
2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these
rights in accordance with their national law and their
obligations under the relevant international instruments in
this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be
Article 8
Preservation of identity
1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to
preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and
family relations as recognized by law without unlawful
The State has an obligation to protect,
and if necessary, re-establish basic
aspects of the child’s identity. This
includes name, nationality and family
2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the
elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide
appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to
speedily re-establishing his or her identity.
Article 9
Separation from parents
1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be
separated from his or her parents against their will, except
when competent authorities subject to judicial review
determine, in accordance with applicable law and
procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best
interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary
in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of
the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living
separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s
place of residence.
The child has a right to live with his
or her parents unless this is deemed to
be incompatible with the child’s best
interests. The child also has the right
to maintain contact with both parents
if separated from one or both.
2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present
article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to
participate in the proceedings and make their views known.
3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is
separated from one or both parents to maintain personal
relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular
basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.
4. Where such separation results from any action initiated by
a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile,
deportation or death (including death arising from any cause
while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or
both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon
request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate,
another member of the family with the essential information
concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the
family unless the provision of the information would be
detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties
shall further ensure that the submission of such a request
shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the
person(s) concerned.
Article 10
Family reunification
1. In accordance with the obligation of States Parties under
article 9, paragraph 1, applications by a child or his or her
parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of
family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a
positive, humane and expeditious manner. States Parties
shall further ensure that the submission of such a request
shall entail no adverse consequences for the applicants and
for the members of their family.
Children and their parents have the
right to leave any country and to enter
their own for purposes of reunion or
the maintenance of the child-parent
2. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have
the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional
circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with
both parents. Towards that end and in accordance with the
obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1,
States Parties shall respect the right of the child and his or
her parents to leave any country, including their own, and to
enter their own country. The right to leave any country shall
be subject only to such restrictions as are prescribed by law
and which are necessary to protect the national security,
public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the
rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the
other rights recognized in the present Convention.
Article 11
Illicit transfer and non-return
1. States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit
transfer and non-return of children abroad.
The State has an obligation to prevent
and remedy the kidnapping or
retention of children abroad by a
parent or third party.
2. To this end, States Parties shall promote the conclusion of
bilateral or multilateral agreements or accession to existing
Article 12
The child’s opinion
1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of
forming his or her own views the right to express those
views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of
the child being given due weight in accordance with the age
and maturity of the child.
The child has the right to express his
or her opinion freely and to have that
opinion taken into account in any
matter or procedure affecting the
2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided
the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and
administrative proceedings affecting the child, either
directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body,
in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national
Article 13
Freedom of expression
1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression;
this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers,
either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or
through any other media of the child’s choice.
The child has the right to express his
or her views, obtain information,
make ideas or information known,
regardless of frontiers.
2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain
restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by
law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order
(ordre public), or of public health or morals.
Freedom of thought, conscience and
Article 14
1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to
freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the
parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide
direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a
manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
The State shall respect the child’s
right to freedom of thought,
conscience and religion, subject to
appropriate parental guidance.
3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be
subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and
are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or
morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
Article 15
Freedom of association
1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom
of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.
Children have a right to meet with
others, and to join or form
2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these
rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law
and which are necessary in a democratic society in the
interests of national security or public safety, public order
(ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or
the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Article 16
Protection of privacy
1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful
interference with his or her privacy, family, home or
correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour
and reputation.
Children have the right to protection
from interference with privacy, family,
home and correspondence, and from
libel or slander.
2. The child has the right to the protection of the law against
such interference or attacks.
Article 17
Access to appropriate information
States Parties recognize the important function performed
by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access
to information and material from a diversity of national and
international sources, especially those aimed at the
promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral wellbeing and physical and mental health. To this end, States
Parties shall:
information and material from a
diversity of sources, and it shall
encourage the mass media to
disseminate information which is of
social and cultural benefit to the
child, and take steps to protect him or
her from harmful materials.
(a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information
and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in
accordance with the spirit of article 29;
(b) Encourage international co-operation in the production,
exchange and dissemination of such information and
material from a diversity of cultural, national and
international sources;
(c) Encourage the production and dissemination of
children’s books;
(d) Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to
the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority
group or who is indigenous;
(e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for
the protection of the child from information and material
injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the
provisions of articles 13 and 18.
Article 18
Parental responsibilities
1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure
recognition of the principle that both parents have common
responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the
child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have
the primary responsibility for the upbringing and
development of the child. The best interests of the child will
be their basic concern.
responsibility for raising the child,
and the State shall support them in
this. The State shall provide
appropriate assistance to parents in
2. For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights
set forth in the present Convention, States Parties shall
render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians
in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and
shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and
services for the care of children.
3. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure
that children of working parents have the right to benefit
from child-care services and facilities for which they are
Article 19
Protection from abuse and neglect
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative,
administrative, social and educational measures to protect
the child from all forms of physical or mental violence,
injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment
or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of
parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the
care of the child.
The State shall protect the child from
all forms of maltreatment by parents
or others responsible for the care of
the child and establish appropriate
social programmes for the prevention
of abuse and the treatment of victims.
2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include
effective procedures for the establishment of social
programmes to provide necessary support for the child and
for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other
forms of prevention and for identification, reporting,
referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances
of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as
appropriate, for judicial involvement.
Article 20
Protection of a child without family
1. A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her
family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot
be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled
to special protection and assistance provided by the State.
The State is obliged to provide special
protection for a child deprived of the
family environment and to ensure that
appropriate alternative family care or
institutional placement is available in
such cases. Efforts to meet this
obligation shall pay due regard to the
child’s cultural background.
2. States Parties shall in accordance with their national laws
ensure alternative care for such a child.
3. Such care could include, inter alia, foster placement,
kafala of Islamic law, adoption, or if necessary placement in
suitable institutions for the care of children. When
considering solutions, due regard shall be paid to the
desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and to the
child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.
Article 21
States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of
adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall
be the paramount consideration and they shall:
In countries where adoption is
recognized and/or allowed, it shall
only be carried out in the best
interests of the child, and then only
with the authorization of competent
authorities, and safeguards for the
(a) Ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by
competent authorities who determine, in accordance with
applicable law and procedures and on the basis of all
pertinent and reliable information, that the adoption is
permissible in view of the child’s status concerning parents,
relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the
persons concerned have given their informed consent to the
adoption on the basis of such counselling as may be
(b) Recognize that inter-country adoption may be
considered as an alternative means of child’s care, if the
child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or
cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child’s
country of origin;
(c) Ensure that the child concerned by intercountry adoption
enjoys safeguards and standards equivalent to those existing
in the case of national adoption;
(d) Take all appropriate measures to ensure that, in
intercountry adoption, the placement does not result in
improper financial gain for those involved in it;
(e) Promote, where appropriate, the objectives of the present
article by concluding bilateral or multilateral arrangements
or agreements, and endeavour, within this framework, to
ensure that the placement of the child in another country is
carried out by competent authorities or organs.
Article 22
Refugee children
1. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure
that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is
considered a refugee in accordance with applicable
international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether
unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by
any other person, receive appropriate protection and
humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable
rights set forth in the present Convention and in other
international human rights or humanitarian instruments to
which the said States are Parties.
Special protection shall be granted to
a refugee child or to a child seeking
refugee status. It is the State’s
2. For this purpose, States Parties shall provide, as they
consider appropriate, co-operation in any efforts by the
United Nations and other competent intergovernmental
organizations or non-governmental organizations cooperating with the United Nations to protect and assist such
a child and to trace the parents or other members of the
family of any refugee child in order to obtain information
necessary for reunification with his or her family. In cases
where no parents or other members of the family can be
found, the child shall be accorded the same protection as
any other child permanently or temporarily deprived of his
or her family environment for any reason, as set forth in the
present Convention.
Article 23
Disabled children
1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically
disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in
conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance, and
facilitate the child’s active participation in the community.
A disabled child has the right to
special care, education and training
to help him or her enjoy a full and
decent life in dignity and achieve the
greatest degree of self-reliance and
social integration possible.
2. States Parties recognize the right of the disabled child to
special care and shall encourage and ensure the extension,
subject to available resources, to the eligible child and those
responsible for his or her care, of assistance for which
application is made and which is appropriate to the child’s
condition and to the circumstances of the parents or others
caring for the child.
3. Recognizing the special needs of a disabled child,
assistance extended in accordance with paragraph 2 of the
present article shall be provided free of charge, whenever
possible, taking into account the financial resources of the
parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed
to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and
receives education, training, health care services,
rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and
recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child’s
achieving the fullest possible social integration and
individual development, including his or her cultural and
spiritual development.
4. States Parties shall promote, in the spirit of international
co-operation, the exchange of appropriate information in the
field of preventive health care and of medical, psychological
and functional treatment of disabled children, including
dissemination of and access to information concerning
methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational services,
with the aim of enabling States Parties to improve their
capabilities and skills and to widen their experience in these
areas. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the
needs of developing countries.
Article 24
Health and health services
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the
enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to
facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of
health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is
deprived of his or her right of access to such health care
The child has a right to the highest
standard of health and medical care
attainable. States shall place special
emphasis on the provision of primary
and preventive health care, public
health education and the reduction of
infant mortality. They shall encourage
international co-operation in this
regard and strive to see that no child
is deprived of access to effective
health services.
2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this
right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
(b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance
and health care to all children with emphasis on the
development of primary health care;
(c) To combat disease and malnutrition including within the
framework of primary health care, through inter alia the
application of readily available technology and through the
provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking
water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of
environmental pollution;
(d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health
care for mothers;
(e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular
parents and children, are informed, have access to education
and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child
health and nutrition, the advantages of breast-feeding,
hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of
(f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents
and family planning education and services.
3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate
measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices
prejudicial to the health of children.
4. States Parties undertake to promote and encourage
international co-operation with a view to achieving
progressively the full realization of the right recognized in
the present article. In this regard, particular account shall be
taken of the needs of developing countries.
Article 25
Periodic review of placement
States Parties recognize the right of a child who has been
placed by the competent authorities for the purposes of care,
protection or treatment of his or her physical or mental
health, to a periodic review of the treatment provided to the
child and all other circumstances relevant to his or her
A child who is placed by the State for
reasons of care, protection or
treatment is entitled to have that
placement evaluated regularly.
Article 26
Social security
1. States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to
benefit from social security, including social insurance, and
shall take the necessary measures to achieve the full
realization of this right in accordance with their national
The child has the right to benefit from
social security including social
2. The benefits should, where appropriate, be granted, taking
into account the resources and the circumstances of the child
and persons having responsibility for the maintenance of the
child, as well as any other consideration relevant to an
application for benefits made by or on behalf of the child.
Article 27
Standard of living
1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a
standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental,
spiritual, moral and social development.
Every child has the right to a
standard of living adequate for his or
her physical, mental, spiritual, moral
and social development. Parents have
the primary responsibility to ensure
that the child has an adequate
standard of living. The State’s duty is
to ensure that this responsibility can
be fulfilled, and is. State responsibility
can include material assistance to
parents and their children.
2. The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the
primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and
financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for
the child’s development.
3. States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and
within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist
parents and others responsible for the child to implement
this right and shall in case of need provide material
assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard
to nutrition, clothing and housing.
4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to secure
the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parents
or other persons having financial responsibility for the child,
both within the State Party and from abroad. In particular,
where the person having financial responsibility for the
child lives in a State different from that of the child, States
Parties shall promote the accession to international
agreements or the conclusion of such agreements, as well as
the making of other appropriate arrangements.
Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education,
and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on
the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
The child has a right to education,
and the State’s duty is to ensure that
primary education is free and
compulsory, to encourage different
forms of secondary education
accessible to every child and to make
higher education available to all on
the basis of capacity. School
discipline shall be consistent with the
child’s rights and dignity. The State
co-operation to implement this right.
(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free
to all;
(b) Encourage the development of different forms of
secondary education, including general and vocational
education, make them available and accessible to every
child, and take appropriate measures such as the
introduction of free education and offering financial
assistance in case of need;
(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of
capacity by every appropriate means;
(d) Make educational and vocational information and
guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at
schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure
that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent
with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the
present Convention.
3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international
co-operation in matters relating to education, in particular
with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance
and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to
scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching
methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of
the needs of developing countries.
Article 29
Aims of education
1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be
directed to:
Education shall aim at developing the
child’s personality, talents and mental
and physical abilities to the fullest
extent. Education shall prepare the
child for an active adult life in a free
society and foster respect for the
child’s parents, his or her own
cultural identity, language and values,
and for the cultural background and
values of others.
(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and
mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
(b) The development of respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in
the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or
her own cultural identity, language and values, for the
national values of the country in which the child is living,
the country from which he or she may originate, and for
civilizations different from his or her own;
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free
society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance,
equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic,
national and religious groups and persons of indigenous
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be
construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals
and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions,
subject always to the observance of the principles set forth
in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements
that the education given in such institutions shall conform to
such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.
Children of minorities or
indigenous populations
Article 30
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic
minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child
belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not
be denied the right, in community with other members of his
or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and
practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own
Article 31
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and
leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities
appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in
cultural life and the arts.
Children of minority communities and
indigenous populations have the right
to enjoy their own culture and to
practise their own religion and
Leisure, recreation and cultural
The child has the right to leisure, play
and participation in cultural and
artistic activities.
2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the
child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall
encourage the provision of appropriate and equal
opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure
Article 32
Child labour
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be
protected from economic exploitation and from performing
any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with
the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health
or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
The child has the right to be protected
from work that threatens his or her
health, education or development. The
State shall set minimum ages for
employment and regulate working
2. States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social
and educational measures to ensure the implementation of
the present article. To this end, and having regard to the
relevant provisions of other international instruments, States
Parties shall in particular:
(a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for
admissions to employment;
(b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and
conditions of employment;
(c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to
ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.
Article 33
Drug abuse
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including
legislative, administrative, social and educational measures,
to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and
psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant
international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in
the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.
Children have the right to protection
from the use of narcotic and
psychotropic drugs, and from being
involved in their production or
Article 34
Sexual exploitation
States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms
of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes,
States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national,
bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
The State shall protect children from
sexual exploitation and abuse,
involvement in pornography.
(a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any
unlawful sexual activity;
(b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other
unlawful sexual practices;
(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic
performances and materials.
Article 35
Sale, trafficking and abduction
States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral
and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the
sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.
It is the State’s obligation to make
every effort to prevent the sale,
trafficking and abduction of children.
Article 36
Other forms of exploitation
States Parties shall protect the child against all other forms
of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s
The child has the right to protection
from all forms of exploitation
prejudicial to any aspects of the
child’s welfare not covered in articles
32, 33, 34 and 35.
Article 37
Torture and deprivation of liberty
States Parties shall ensure that:
No child shall be subjected to torture,
cruel treatment or punishment,
unlawful arrest or deprivation of
liberty. Both capital punishment and
life imprisonment without the
possibility of release are prohibited
for offences committed by persons
below 18 years. Any child deprived of
liberty shall be separated from adults
unless it is considered in the child’s
best interests not to do so. A child
who is detained shall have legal and
other assistance as well as contact
with the family.
(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither
capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility
of release shall be imposed for offences committed by
persons below 18 years of age;
(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty
unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or
imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law
and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the
shortest appropriate period of time;
(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with
humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human
person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs
of persons of his or her age. In particular every child
deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is
considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall
have the right to maintain contact with his or her family
through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional
(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the
right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate
assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of
the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other
competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a
prompt decision on any such action.
Article 38
Armed conflicts
1. States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect
for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to
them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child.
States Parties shall take all feasible
measures to ensure that children
under 15 years of age have no direct
part in hostilities. No child below 15
shall be recruited into the armed
forces. States shall also ensure the
protection and care of children who
are affected by armed conflict as
described in relevant international
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure
that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do
not take a direct part in hostilities.
3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who
has not attained the age of 15 years into their armed forces.
In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age
of 15 years but who have not attained the age of 18 years,
States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who
are oldest.
4. In accordance with their obligations under international
humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed
conflicts, States Parties shall take all feasible measures to
ensure protection and care of children who are affected by
an armed conflict.
Article 39
Rehabilitative care
States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote
physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration
of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or
abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such
recovery and reintegration shall take place in an
environment which fosters the health, self-respect and
dignity of the child.
The State has an obligation to ensure
that child victims of armed conflicts,
torture, neglect, maltreatment or
treatment for their recovery and
social reintegration.
Article 40
Administration of juvenile justice
1. States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged
as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal
law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion
of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces
the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental
freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s
age and the desirability of promoting the child’s
reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in
A child in conflict with the law has the
right to treatment which promotes the
child’s sense of dignity and worth,
takes the child’s age into account and
aims at his or her reintegration into
society. The child is entitled to basic
guarantees as well as legal or other
assistance for his or her defence.
Judicial proceedings and institutional
placements shall be avoided wherever
2. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions
of international instruments, States Parties shall, in
particular, ensure that:
(a) No child shall be alleged as, be accused of, or recognized
as having infringed the penal law by reason of acts or
omissions that were not prohibited by national or
international law at the time they were committed;
(b) Every child alleged as or accused of having infringed the
penal law has at least the following guarantees:
(i) To be presumed innocent until proven guilty
according to law;
(ii) To be informed promptly and directly of the charges
against him or her, and, if appropriate, through his or her
parents or legal guardians, and to have legal or other
appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation
of his or her defence;
(iii) To have the matter determined without delay by a
competent, independent and impartial authority or
judicial body in a fair hearing according to law, in the
presence of legal or other appropriate assistance and,
unless it is considered not to be in the best interest of the
child, in particular, taking into account his or her age or
situation, his or her parents or legal guardians;
(iv) Not to be compelled to give testimony or to confess
guilt; to examine or have examined adverse witnesses
and to obtain the participation and examination of
witnesses on his or her behalf under conditions of
(v) If considered to have infringed the penal law, to have
this decision and any measures imposed in consequence
thereof reviewed by a higher competent, independent and
impartial authority or judicial body according to law;
(vi) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if the
child cannot understand or speak the language used;
(vii) To have his or her privacy fully respected at all
stages of the proceedings.
3. States Parties shall seek to promote the establishment of
laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically
applicable to children alleged as, accused of, or recognized
as having infringed the penal law, and, in particular:
(a) the establishment of a minimum age below which
children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to
infringe the penal law;
(b) whenever appropriate and desirable, measures for
dealing with such children without resorting to judicial
proceedings, providing that human rights and legal
safeguards are fully respected.
4. A variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance and
supervision orders; counselling; probation; foster care;
education and vocational training programmes and other
alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure
that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their
well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances
and the offence.
Article 41
Respect for higher standards
Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any
provisions which are more conducive to the realization of
the rights of the child and which may be contained in:
Wherever standards set in applicable
national and international law
relevant to the rights of the child that
are higher than those in this
Convention, the higher standard shall
always apply.
(a) The law of a State Party; or
(b) International law in force for that State.
Implementation and entry into
Article 42
States Parties undertake to make the principles and
provisions of the Convention widely known, by appropriate
and active means, to adults and children alike.
Article 43
1. For the purpose of examining the progress made by States
Parties in achieving the realization of the obligations
undertaken in the present Convention, there shall be
established a Committee on the Rights of the Child, which
shall carry out the functions hereinafter provided.
The provisions of articles 42-54
notably foresee:
(i) the State’s obligation to make the
rights contained in this Convention
widely known to both adults and
2. The Committee shall consist of ten experts of high moral
standing and recognized competence in the field covered by
this Convention. The members of the Committee shall be
elected by States Parties from among their nationals and
shall serve in their personal capacity, consideration being
given to equitable geographical distribution, as well as to the
principal legal systems.
3. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret
ballot from a list of persons nominated by States Parties.
Each State Party may nominate one person from among its
own nationals.
4. The initial election to the Committee shall be held no later
than six months after the date of the entry into force of the
present Convention and thereafter every second year. At
least four months before the date of each election, the
Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address a
letter to States Parties inviting them to submit their
nominations within two months. The Secretary-General
shall subsequently prepare a list in alphabetical order of all
persons thus nominated, indicating States Parties which
have nominated them, and shall submit it to the States
Parties to the present Convention.
5. The elections shall be held at meetings of States Parties
convened by the Secretary-General at United Nations
Headquarters. At those meetings, for which two thirds of
States Parties shall constitute a quorum, the persons elected
to the Committee shall be those who obtain the largest
number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the
representatives of States Parties present and voting.
6. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term
of four years. They shall be eligible for re-election if
renominated. The term of five of the members elected at the
first election shall expire at the end of two years;
immediately after the first election, the names of these five
members shall be chosen by lot by the Chairman of the
7. If a member of the Committee dies or resigns or declares
that for any other cause he or she can no longer perform the
duties of the Committee, the State Party which nominated
the member shall appoint another expert from among its
nationals to serve for the remainder of the term, subject to
the approval of the Committee.
8. The Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure.
9. The Committee shall elect its officers for a period of two
(ii) the setting up of a Committee on
the Rights of the Child composed of
ten experts, which will consider
reports that States Parties to the
Convention are to submit two years
after ratification and every five years
thereafter. The Convention enters into
force - and the Committee would
therefore be set up - once 20 countries
have ratified it.
(iii) States Parties are to make their
reports widely available to the
general public.
(iv) The Committee may propose that
special studies be undertaken on
specific issues relating to the rights of
the child, and may make its
evaluations known to each State Party
concerned as well as to the UN
General Assembly.
(v) In order to “foster the effective
implementation of the Convention and
agencies of the UN - such as the
International Labour Organisation
(ILO), World Health Organization
Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) - and
UNICEF would be able to attend the
meetings of the Committee. Together
with any other body recognized as
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
in consultative status with the UN and
UN organs such as the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR), they can submit pertinent
information to the Committee and be
asked to advise on the optimal
implementation of the Convention.
10. The meetings of the Committee shall normally be held at
United Nations Headquarters or at any other convenient
place as determined by the Committee. The Committee shall
normally meet annually. The duration of the meetings of the
Committee shall be determined, and reviewed, if necessary,
by a meeting of the States Parties to the present Convention,
subject to the approval of the General Assembly.
11. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall
provide the necessary staff and facilities for the effective
performance of the functions of the Committee under the
present Convention.
12. With the approval of the General Assembly, the
members of the Committee established under the present
Convention shall receive emoluments from the United
Nations resources on such terms and conditions as the
Assembly may decide.
Article 44
1. States Parties undertake to submit to the Committee,
through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, reports
on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the
rights recognized herein and on the progress made on the
enjoyment of those rights:
(a) Within two years of the entry into force of the
Convention for the State Party concerned,
(b) Thereafter every five years.
2. Reports made under the present article shall indicate
factors and difficulties, if any, affecting the degree of
fulfilment of the obligations under the present Convention.
Reports shall also contain sufficient information to provide
the Committee with a comprehensive understanding of the
implementation of the Convention in the country concerned.
3. A State Party which has submitted a comprehensive
initial report to the Committee need not in its subsequent
reports submitted in accordance with paragraph 1(b) of the
present article repeat basic information previously provided.
4. The Committee may request from States Parties further
information relevant to the implementation of the
5. The Committee shall submit to the General Assembly,
through the Economic and Social Council, every two years,
reports on its activities.
6. States Parties shall make their reports widely available to
the public in their own countries.
Article 45
In order to foster the effective implementation of the
Convention and to encourage international co-operation in
the field covered by the Convention:
(a) The specialized agencies, the United Nations Children’s
Fund and other United Nations organs shall be entitled to be
represented at the consideration of the implementation of
such provisions of the present Convention as fall within the
scope of their mandate. The Committee may invite the
specialized agencies, the United Nations Children’s Fund
and other competent bodies as it may consider appropriate
to provide expert advice on the implementation of the
Convention in areas falling within the scope of their
respective mandates. The Committee may invite the
specialized agencies, the United Nations Children’s Fund
and other United Nations organs to submit reports on the
implementation of the Convention in areas falling within the
scope of their activities;
(b) The Committee shall transmit, as it may consider
appropriate, to the specialized agencies, the United Nations
Children’s Fund and other competent bodies, any reports
from States Parties that contain a request, or indicate a need,
for technical advice or assistance, along with the
Committee’s observations and suggestions, if any, on these
requests or indications;
(c) The Committee may recommend to the General
Assembly to request the Secretary-General to undertake on
its behalf studies on specific issues relating to the rights of
the child;
(d) The Committee may make suggestions and general
recommendations based on information received pursuant to
articles 44 and 45 of the present Convention. Such
suggestions and general recommendations shall be
transmitted to any State Party concerned and reported to the
General Assembly, together with comments, if any, from
States Parties.
Article 46
The present Convention shall be open for signature by all
Article 47
The present Convention is subject to ratification.
Instruments of ratification shall be deposited with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Article 48
The present Convention shall remain open for accession by
any State. The instruments of accession shall be deposited
with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Article 49
1. The present Convention shall enter into force on the
thirtieth day following the date of deposit with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations of the twentieth
instrument of ratification or accession.
2. For each State ratifying or acceding to the Convention
after the deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or
accession, the Convention shall enter into force on the
thirtieth day after the deposit by such State of its instrument
of ratification or accession.
Article 50
1. Any State Party may propose an amendment and file it
with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The
Secretary-General shall thereupon communicate the
proposed amendment to States Parties, with a request that
they indicate whether they favour a conference of States
Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon the
proposals. In the event that, within four months from the
date of such communication, at least one third of the States
Parties favour such a conference, the Secretary-General
shall convene the conference under the auspices of the
United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of
States Parties present and voting at the conference shall be
submitted to the General Assembly for approval.
2. An amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 1
of the present article shall enter into force when it has been
approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations
and accepted by a two-thirds majority of States Parties.
3. When an amendment enters into force, it shall be binding
on those States Parties which have accepted it, other States
Parties still being bound by the provisions of the present
Convention and any earlier amendments which they have
Article 51
1. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall receive
and circulate to all States the text of reservations made by
States at the time of ratification or accession.
2. A reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of
the present Convention shall not be permitted.
3. Reservations may be withdrawn at any time by
notification to that effect addressed to the Secretary-General
of the United Nations, who shall then inform all States. Such
notification shall take effect on the date on which it is
received by the Secretary-General.
Article 52
A State Party may denounce the present Convention by
written notification to the Secretary-General of the United
Nations. Denunciation becomes effective one year after the
date of receipt of the notification by the Secretary-General.
Article 53
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is designated
as the depositary of the present Convention.
Article 54
The original of the present Convention, of which the Arabic,
Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are
equally authentic, shall be deposited with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.
In witness thereof the undersigned plenipotentiaries, being
duly authorized thereto by their respective Governments,
have signed the present Convention.
Annex 3
A brief introduction to international human rights law terminology
(Excerpt from: Human Rights: A Basic Handbook for UN Staff, pp. 2-5)
What are human rights?
Human rights are commonly understood as being those rights which are inherent to
the human being. The concept of human rights acknowledges that every single human
being is entitled to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction as to race, colour,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property,
birth or other status.
Human rights are legally guaranteed by human rights law, protecting individuals and
groups against actions that interfere with fundamental freedoms and human dignity.
They are expressed in treaties, customary international law, bodies of principles and
other sources of law. Human rights law places an obligation on States to act in a
particular way and prohibits States from engaging in specified activities. However, the
law does not establish human rights. Human rights are inherent entitlements which
come to every person as a consequence of being human. Treaties and other sources of
law generally serve to protect formally the rights of individuals and groups against
actions or abandonment of actions by Governments which interfere with the
enjoyment of their human rights.
The following are some of the most important characteristics of human rights:
Human rights are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
Human rights are universal, meaning that they are applied equally and without
discrimination to all people;
Human rights are inalienable, in that no one can have his or her human rights
taken away; they can be limited in specific situations (for example, the right to
liberty can be restricted if a person is found guilty of a crime by a court of law);
Human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent, for the reason
that it is insufficient to respect some human rights and not others. In practice,
the violation of one right will often affect respect for several other rights. All
human rights should therefore be seen as having equal importance and of being
equally essential to respect for the dignity and worth of every person.
International human rights law
The formal expression of inherent human rights is through international human rights
law. A series of international human rights treaties and other instruments have
emerged since 1945 conferring legal form on inherent human rights. The creation of
the United Nations provided an ideal forum for the development and adoption of
international human rights instruments. Other instruments have been adopted at a
regional level reflecting the particular human rights concerns of the region. Most
States have also adopted constitutions and other laws which formally protect basic
human rights. Often the language used by States is drawn directly from the
international human rights instruments.
International human rights law consists mainly of treaties and custom as well as, inter
alia, declarations, guidelines and principles.
A treaty is an agreement by States to be bound by particular rules. International
treaties have different designations such as covenants, charters, protocols,
conventions, accords and agreements. A treaty is legally binding on those States
which have consented to be bound by the provisions of the treaty – in other words are
party to the treaty.
A State can become a party to a treaty by ratification, accession or succession.
Ratification is a State's formal expression of consent to be bound by a treaty. Only a
State that has previously signed the treaty (during the period when the treaty was open
for signature) can ratify it. Ratification consists of two procedural acts: on the
domestic level, it requires approval by the appropriate constitutional organ (usually
the head of State or parliament). On the international level, pursuant to the relevant
provision of the treaty in question, the instrument of ratification shall be formally
transmitted to the depositary which may be a State or an international organization
such as the United Nations.
Accession entails consent to be bound by a State that has not previously signed the
instrument. States ratify treaties both before and after the treaty has entered into force.
The same applies to accession.
A State may also become party to a treaty by succession, which takes place by virtue
of a specific treaty provision or by declaration.
Most treaties are not self-executing. In some States treaties are superior to domestic
law, whereas in other States treaties are given constitutional status, and in yet others
only certain provisions of a treaty are incorporated in domestic law.
A State may, in ratifying a treaty, enter reservations to that treaty, indicating that,
while it consents to be bound by most of the provisions, it does not agree to be bound
by certain specific provisions. However, a reservation may not defeat the object and
purpose of the treaty. Further, even if a State is not a party to a treaty or if it has
entered reservations thereto, that State may still be bound by those treaty provisions
which have become part of customary international law or constitute peremptory rules
of international law, such as the prohibition against torture.
Customary international law (or simply "custom”) is the term used to describe a
general and consistent practice followed by States deriving from a sense of legal
obligation. Thus, for example, while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is
not in itself a binding treaty, some of its provisions have the character of customary
international law.
Declarations, resolutions etc. adopted by United Nations organs
General norms of international law – principles and practices that most States would
agree on – are often stated in declarations, proclamations, standard rules, guidelines,
recommendations and principles. While no binding legal effect on States ensues, they
nevertheless represent a broad consensus on the part of the international community
and, therefore, have a strong and undeniable moral force in terms of the practice of
States in their conduct of international relations. The value of such instruments rests
on their recognition and acceptance by a large number of States, and, even without
binding legal effect, they may be seen as declaratory of broadly accepted principles
within the international community.
Annex 4
Selected Organizations
United Nations organizations
Organizations within the United Nations system can provide materials and other forms of
support for human rights education programmes. The addresses of the headquarters of a
selected list of United Nations organizations follow; they will be able to provide details
regarding their national presences/counterparts.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004)
Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
+41 22 917 92 69
+41 22 917 90 03
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.ohchr.org
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Education Sector
7, place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP
+33 1 45 68 10 00
+33 1 45 67 16 90
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.unesco.org
UNESCO International Bureau of Education
15, route des Morillons
1218 Grand-Saconnex
+41 22 917 78 00
+41 22 917 78 01
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.ibe.unesco.org
United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF)
3, United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
+1 212 326 7000
+1 212 887 7465 / 887 7454
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.unicef.org
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre
Piazza SS. Annunziata 12
50122 Florence
+39 055 20 33 0
+39 055 24 48 17
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.unicef-icdc.org
United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations Cyberschoolbus
c/o Global Teaching and Learning Project
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY 10017
+1 212 963 8589
+1 212 963 0071
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
1, United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
+1 212 906 5558
+1 212 906 5364
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.undp.org
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome
+39 06 5705 1
+39 06 5705 3152
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.fao.org
International Labour Organization (ILO)
4, route des Morillons
1211 Geneva 22
+41 22 799 61 11
+41 22 798 86 85
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.ilo.org
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
United Nations Avenue, Gigiri
P.O. Box 30552
+254 2 621234
+254 2 624489/90
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.unep.org
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
P.O. Box 2500
1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
+41 22 739 81 11
+41 22 739 73 77
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.unhcr.ch
World Health Organization (WHO)
20, Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27
+41 22 791 21 11
+41 22 791 31 11
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.who.int
Other organizations
The following organizations provide primary, middle and secondary school educators with
information, conference facilities, training and materials about human rights education. For
complete and current information on their activities and resources, contact these organizations
or visit their web sites on the Internet.15
International level
Most of these organizations have national chapters or counterparts, which carry out
human rights education programmes and develop related materials. Information on
national contacts can be obtained at the following addresses.
Amnesty International - Human Rights Education Team
International Secretariat
1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
+44 207 4135513
+44 207 9561157
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.amnesty.org
Has extensive programmes and resources for human rights education, including a regularly
updated annotated bibliography of resources in many languages that is available online at:
<http://www.amnesty.org> [search under “Library” → “View by theme” → “Human rights
For a broad listing of related organizations, see also: “The Human Rights Education Resourcebook”,
second edition, Human Rights Education Associates (HREA), 2000. Available on-line at
Anti-Slavery International
Thomas Clarkson House, The Stableyard
Broomgrove Road
London SW9 9TL
+44 20 7501 8920
+44 20 7738 4110
[email protected]
Web site: http://www.antislavery.org
Publishes resources for use in schools and offers education programmes on human rights in
schools and youth centres. Breaking the Silence is an educational resources web site on the
transatlantic slave trade.
Association mondiale pour l'école instrument de paix/World Association for the School
as an Instrument of Peace (EIP)
5, rue de Simplon
1207 Geneva
+41 22 735 2422
+41 22 735 0653
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.eip-cifedhop.org
Publishes materials for use in schools and provides training, including a summer course for
teachers with French, English, and Spanish sections.
Canadian Human Rights Foundation
1425 René-Lévesque Blvd. West, Suite 407
Montréal, Québec, Canada H3G 1T7
+1 514 9540382
+1 514 9540659
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.chrf.ca
Provides curriculum materials and offers regional training programmes in Africa, Asia and
Central and Eastern Europe. It offers a summer International Human Rights Training
Programme (IHRTP) for educators and activists.
Cultural Survival
215 Prospect Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
+1 617 441 5400
+1 617 441 5417
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.cs.org
Provides materials and training on indigenous rights worldwide.
Education International
5 bd du Roi Albert II
1210 Brussels
+32 2 224 0611
+32 2 224 0606
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.ei-ie.org
A worldwide trade union organization of education personnel working in all sectors of
education from pre-school to university.
Human Rights Education Associates (HREA)
HREA - USA Office
P.O. Box 382396
Cambridge, MA 02238
+1 617 6250278
+1 617 2490278
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.hrea.org
Provides extensive resources to educators, including consultation in curriculum and materials
development, programme evaluation, an online Resource Centre for Human Rights Education
and an international list-serv for human rights educators.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
19, avenue de la Paix
1202 Geneva
+41 22 734 6001
+41-22 733 2057
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.icrc.org
Its mandate includes the dissemination of international law of armed conflict and human
rights law through education, training and public awareness.
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IFHR)
Wickenburgg. 14/7
1080 Vienna
+43 1 408 8822
+43 1 408 882250
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.ihf-hr.org
Although principally concerned with monitoring and reporting, many national Helsinki
Committees also provide human rights education materials and training.
International Save the Children Alliance
275-281 King Street
London W6 9LZ
+44 20 8748 2554
Web site:
+44 20 8237 8000
[email protected]
Educates and advocates on the rights of the child.
OXFAM International
International Secretariat
Suite 20, 266 Banbury Road
Oxford, OX2 7DL
+44 1865 31 3939
+44 1865 31 3770
[email protected]
Web site:
Educational focus is on the right to development, gender issues and social and economic
Peace Child International
The White House
Buntingford, Herts. SG9 9AH
+44 176 327 4459
+44 176 327 4460
[email protected]
Web site:
A network of high-school student groups in more than 100 countries, run by young people in
partnership with adult professionals.
People's Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE)
526 W. 111th Street
New York, NY 10025
+1 212 749 3156
+1 212 666 6325
[email protected]
Web site:
A resource centre for research and development of educational materials with online
World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA/FMANU)
c/o Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
+44 22 917 3213/3239
+44 22 917 0185
[email protected]
Web site:
Many United Nations Associations develop training programmes and materials about human
rights for use in formal education, including model United Nations programmes.
World Organization of the Scout Movement (World Scout Bureau)
P.O. Box 241
1211 Geneva 4
+41 22 705 1010
+41 22 705 1020
[email protected]
Web site:
Includes educational programmes and materials on development and children rights.
Some contacts at the regional level
Africa and the Middle East
African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
Zoe Tembo Building, Kerr Sereign K. S. M. D.
P. O. Box: 2728
Web site:
+220 462340 / 462341/ 462342
+220 462338 / 462339
[email protected] or [email protected]
Main activities include training, information and documentation in the field of human rights.
Produces material for human rights education in schools.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
P.O. Box 117
Maglis el-Shaab
11516 Cairo
+202 7946065
+202 7921913
[email protected]
Web site:
Provides human rights training and publications for students and educators.
Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS)
University of Natal
Durban 4014
+27 31 260 1291
+27 31 260 1540
[email protected]
Web site:
Coordinates the Street Law and Democracy for All programmes. Offers teacher training and
curriculum materials.
Institut Arabe des Droits de l’Homme (IADH) / Arab Institute for Human Rights
14 Rue Al-Jahidh, Menzahl
1004 Tunis
+216 1 767 003/ 767 889
+216 1 750 911
E-mail :
[email protected]
Web site:
Develops training programmes and materials for teachers, students and children.
Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA)
357 Visagie Street (corner Prinsloo)
PO Box 56950
Arcadia, Pretoria 0007
+27 12 392 0500
+27 12 320 2414/5
[email protected]
Web site:
Develops materials and provides teacher training at the secondary school level.
Union Interafricaine des Droits de l'Homme (UIDH)
01 BP 1346 - Ouagadougou
+226 31 61 45
+226 31 61 44
[email protected]
Web site:
Conducts human rights education programmes at the regional level.
Asia and the Pacific16
Asian Regional Resource Center for Human Rights Education (ARRC)
2738 Ladprao 128/3
Klongchan, Bangkapi
Bangkok 10240
+662 731 0829/ 377 5641
+662 731 0829
[email protected]
Web site:
A comprehensive centre providing materials and training for both formal and non-formal
human rights education throughout Asia.
For a more complete listing, see A Directory of Asian and the Pacific Organizations Related to
Human Rights Education Work, third edition, Asian Regional Resource Center for Human Rights
Education (ARRC), January 2003. Available on-line at: < www.arrc-hre.com >.
Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center (HURIGHTS OSAKA)
1-2-1-1500, Benten, Minato-ku
Osaka-shi, Osaka 552-0007
+81 6 6577 3578
+81 6 6577 3583
[email protected]
Web site:
A resource and documentation centre with programmes in both formal and non-formal
Human Rights Correspondence School
c/o Asian Human Rights Commission
Unit D, 7/F., Mongkok Commercial Center,
16-16B Argyle Street, Kowloon
Hong Kong
+852 2698 6339
+852 2698 6367
[email protected] or [email protected]
Web site:
A web site with documents, information and materials to facilitate the development of
human rights education modules in Asian countries.
Philippines Normal University - Gender, Peace and Human Rights Education
Taft Avenue
1001 Manila
+63 2 5244032
+63 2 5270372
[email protected]
Trains teachers in pedagogy and curriculum development for human rights education.
South Asian Human Rights Documentation Center
B-6/6, Safdarjang Enclave Extension
New Delhi 110029
+91 11 619 1120/ 619 2717
Fax :
+91 11 619 1120
[email protected]
Web site:
Develops curricula for the teaching of human rights in schools.
Human Rights Center
University of Minnesota
Mondale Hall, N-120
229-19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
+1 612 626 0041
+1 612 625 2011
[email protected]
Web sites:
Provides comprehensive services to educators, including training, publications and both direct
and online information; publishes the Human Rights Education Series; offers a summer
training-of-trainers course.
Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos (IIDH)
Apartado 10081-1000
San José
+506 234 0404
+506 234 0955
[email protected]
Web site:
A comprehensive centre whose work includes developing materials and conducting training
for secondary school teachers.
Instituto Peruano de Educación en Derechos Humanos y la Paz (IPEDEHP)
Los Gavilanes 195 San Isidro
Lima 11
+51 1 2215713/ 2215668/ 4414602
+51 1 4606759
[email protected]
Web site:
Publishes a wide range of materials for schools and provides training courses for teachers.
Network of Educators on the Americas (NECA)
P.O. Box 73038
Washington, DC 20056
+1 202 588 7204 (toll free: +1 800 763 9131)
+1 202 238 0109
[email protected]
Web site:
Provides teacher training and an extensive catalogue of materials on social justice issues in
English and Spanish.
Red Latinoamericana de Educación para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos
c/o Red de Apoyo por la Justicia y la Paz
Parque Central, Edificio Caroata
Nivel Oficina 2, Oficina n. 220
Caracas 1015-A
+58 212 5741949/ 5748005
[email protected]
A coalition of more than 30 organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean dealing with
human rights education.
Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ)
Joaquín Requena 1642
CP 11 200
+598 2 408 5301
+598 2 408 5701
[email protected]
Web site:
Provides teacher training and materials for formal education.
Southern Poverty Law Centre
400 Washington Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36104
+1 334 956 8200
+1 334-956 8488
Web site:
Provides educational materials online for teachers, parents and students to combat hate,
discrimination and intolerance.
Street Law, Inc.
1600 K Street NW., Suite 602
Washington, DC 20006
+1 202 293 0088
+1 202 293 0089
[email protected]
Web site:
Provides curriculum materials and training for teachers and secondary students for use in
educating the community about law, human rights, democracy and conflict resolution.
Center for Citizenship Education/Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej
Ul. Willowa 9/3
00-790 Warszawa
+48 22 646 2025
[email protected]
Web site:
Provides teaching materials and training for secondary school students, teachers and
Centre for Citizenship Studies in Education
School of Education
University of Leicester
21 University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RF
+44 116 252 3681
+44 116 252 3653
[email protected]
Web site:
Works in partnership with schools to promote research and education for citizenship, human
rights and the teaching of democracy in schools; has a distance learning programme in human
rights education.
Centre for Global Education
York St. John College
Lord Mayor's Walk
York Y031 7EX
United Kingdom
+44 1904 716839/716825
+44 1904 612512
[email protected]
Web site:
http://www.yorksj.ac.uk (search under “About us” → “Centres”)
Offers materials and training, including an annual summer school; publishes the Human
Rights Education Newsletter.
Citizenship Foundation
Ferroners House
Shaftesbury Place, Aldersgate Street
London EC2Y 8AA
+44 020 7367 0500
+44 020 7367 0501
[email protected]
Web site:
Provides materials, curriculum development and teacher training in the UK and Central and
Eastern Europe.
Council of Europe
67075 Strasbourg Cedex
+33 388 412 033
+33 388 412 745
[email protected]
Web site:
Publishes extensive resources for human rights education in French and English, especially
relating to tolerance and the European Convention on Human Rights.
North-South Centre - European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity
Avenida da Libertade 229/4o
1250-142 Lisbon
+351 21 358 40 58
+351 21 352 49 66/ 21 358 40 37
[email protected]
Web site:
Develops materials and publishes a monthly newsletter.
Annex 5
United Nations resources
All human beings … Manual for human rights education (UNESCO, Education
Sector, 1998)
Languages: Albanian, Arabic, English, French.
Online version (Arabic, English, French): available on payment of a fee at
An illustrated practical guide to help primary and secondary school students and
teachers understand the universal elements of human rights. It aims to promote the
common aspiration to social progress and better living conditions in a context of
greater freedom, as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It does
not seek to be exhaustive, but rather to propose material that educators and learners
can develop and adapt to their own cultural contexts.
Education for Development: A Teacher’s Resource for Global Learning by Susan
Fountain (UNICEF, Education for Development Section, 1995)
Languages: English, French.
Online reference page: http://www.unicef.org/pubsgen/edu-develop/index.html
Aims at helping young people make the link between global issues and local concerns
and showing how they can apply what they learn to their own lives and communities.
Also provides teachers of all subjects and at all levels with practical classrooms
activities that can be integrated into existing curricula.
Human Rights: Questions and Answers by Leah Levin (UNESCO, Education Sector,
Languages: Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Belarusian, Danish, English, Finnish,
French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Swedish, Slovak, Spanish,
Online version (English, French, Spanish): available on payment of a fee at
Provides basic information on major human rights instruments, procedures for their
implementation and activities of international organizations to promote and protect
human rights. The first part describes the scope and meaning of international human
rights law, especially the development of protection procedures and the importance of
human rights education. The second part explains the meaning of each of the thirty
articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The materials referred to in this section may also be available in languages other than those
indicated. Also, the Internet addresses of the online versions and reference pages relate to
February 2003 and may have changed subsequently.
It’s Only Right! – A Practical Guide to Learning About the Convention on the
Rights of the Child by Susan Fountain (UNICEF, Education for Development
Section, 1993)
Languages: English, French.
Online version (English): http://www.unicef.org/teachers/protection/only_right.htm
For the sake of both individual and global development, children around the world
need to understand the concept of rights, to know the rights to which they are entitled,
to empathize with those whose rights have been denied, and to be empowered to take
action on behalf on their own rights and those of others. Learning about the
Convention on the Rights of the Child through this Guide is one way to begin.
Primary School Kit on the United Nations / Intermediate School Kit on the United
Nations / Secondary School Kit on the United Nations (United Nations, 1995)
Languages: English, French, Spanish, Thai.
Online version (English): <http://www0.un.org/cyberschoolbus/bookstor/kits/english>
Online version (French): <http://www0.un.org/cyberschoolbus/bookstor/kits/french>
Online version (Spanish):
Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations, these kits offer teachers
and students of every subject a way to explore global issues by linking their lives to
the vast but connected world around them. Valuable curriculum enrichment packages
cover topics ranging from pollution to peacekeeping, from decolonization to
development. Science and mathematics teachers as well as history and social science
teachers will find units that fit easily into their curricula. Each unit includes a main
text that reviews the topics, a UN factfile that presents specific examples of United
Nations involvement, and activities that encourage critical and creative thinking,
participation and reflection on one's own attitude and behaviour. In addition to being
sources of information, the units also demonstrate how an international organization
can improve life for citizens of all countries.
Tolerance: the threshold of peace by Betty A. Reardon (UNESCO, Education Sector,
Languages: Albanian, English, French, Spanish.
Online version (English): <http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/34_57.pdf
Online version (French): <http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/34_57_f.pdf
Online version (Spanish): <http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/34_57_s.pdf
This publication is composed of 3 units:
Teacher-training resource unit
Primary-school resource unit
Secondary-school resource unit
How can tolerance be a key word in the educational process? How can educators be
helped to identify problems related to intolerance as soon as they are witnessed and
formulate objectives adapted to their community and to their students? How can
students be taught to accept human diversity, to manage conflicts and to act
responsibly? The three units of this book, respectively aimed at teachers/educators,
elementary schools and secondary schools, attempt to answer these questions with
selected study materials. Tolerance is placed in the framework of education for peace,
human rights and democracy through many sample activities and themes for study
and reflection. These books are addressed to teachers, as well as teacher trainers,
community actors, parents and social workers – in sum, to all those whose educational
mission can contribute to opening a door onto peace.
UN Cyberschoolbus (web site)
Address: http://www.un.org/cyberschoolbus
Languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish.
The United Nations Cyberschoolbus was created in 1996 as the online education
component of the Global Teaching and Learning Project, whose mission is to promote
education about international issues and the United Nations. The Global Teaching and
Learning Project produces teaching materials and activities designed for students and
teachers at primary, intermediate and secondary school level. This project aims at
providing both online and print educational resources for an increasingly globalized
UNICEF Teachers Talking about Learning (web site)
Address: http://www.unicef.org/teachers
Language: English.
“Teachers Talking about Learning” has been designed to support the professional
development of teachers and educators, and to assist them with practical advice
related to resources, classroom activities and other information to develop childfriendly learning environments. The site is structured around three main sections:
Explore ideas by reading and reflection;
Discuss issues by talking with peers; and
Take action by doing activities.
UNICEF Voices of Youth (web site)
Address: http://www.unicef.org/voy
Languages: English, French, Spanish.
This site invites young visitors to discuss ways in which the world can become a place
where the rights of every child are protected, that is, the right to live in peace, to have
decent shelter, to be healthy and well-nourished, to have clean water, to play, to go to
school, and to be protected from violence, abuse and exploitation. Provides an
opportunity to think about and give views on current global issues, a series of
interactive global learning projects and a forum for teachers, trainers and educational
Other resources
Carpeta Latinoamericana de Materiales Didácticos para Educación en Derechos
Humanos (Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos/Centro de Recursos
Educativos – Amnistía Internacional, 1995)
Language: Spanish.
Online reference page: <http://www.iidh.ed.cr/publicaciones/listadoPubs.asp>
The general objective of the three pedagogical units (freedom, equality, solidarity and
participation) is to provide support for educators and propose a methodology for
human rights education in order to reinforce the learning process through practical
activities for educators as well as students.
Educating for Human Dignity – Learning about Rights and Responsibilities by
Betty A. Reardon (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995)
Language: English.
Online reference page: <http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/1559.html>
This book is written for both teachers and teacher educators. It is a resource offering
both guidance and support materials for human rights education programmes from
kindergarten through high school. It opens possibilities for a holistic approach to
human rights education that directly confronts the values issues raised by human
rights problems in a context of global interrelationships. The conceptual development
approach used throughout the book makes it suitable for a full human rights
curriculum; the grade-level discussions and sample lesson plans can be used in
individual classes or to enrich ongoing programmes.
First Steps – A Manual for Starting Human Rights Education (Amnesty
International, 1996)
Languages: Albanian, Arabic, Dutch, English, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese,
Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Ukrainian.
Online version (English and other languages):
This manual is for teachers and others who work with young people and who want to
introduce human rights into their educational practices. It is designed to be a basic
introduction, with age-specific activities for younger and older children. There is also
advice on methodology and help for those who want to go further into this subject.
The approach stresses the practical rather than the theoretical. The intention is that
educators can take this material and adapt it to suit their own circumstances and
An adaptation of this manual for Africa is entitled Siniko: Towards a Human Rights
Culture in Africa (Amnesty International, 1998), available in English, French and
Online version: <http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/pages/hre_res>
Human Rights for All by Edward L. O’Brien, Eleanor Greene and
David McQuoid-Mason (National Institute for Citizen Education in the Law, 1996)
Languages: English, Hungarian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish.
Online reference page: <http://www.streetlaw.org/pubs.html>
This book is meant for use in middle and secondary schools. Adults interested in
learning the basics of human rights as part of a course or just through informal
education or reading can also use it. The text of the book does not make reference to
any specific country by name, as the authors believe that human rights are universal
and apply to the lives of everyone in every country. However, those familiar with
human rights will recognize that many of the scenarios were taken from events which
occurred in various parts of the world.
Human Rights Here and Now: Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights edited by Nancy Flowers (Human Rights Resource Center, University of
Minnesota, 1998)
Languages: English, Spanish.
Online version (English):
This book is intended for use by both community groups and teachers in elementary
and secondary schools, and constitutes a “starter kit” for human rights education, with
background information on human rights history, principles and issues; activities for a
wide variety of age groups, from kindergarten through adult groups; and essential
human rights documents.
Our World, Our Rights – Teaching about Rights and Responsibilities in Primary
School edited by Margot Brown (Amnesty International United Kingdom, 1996)
Languages: English, Mongolian.
Online reference page: <http://www.amnesty.org.uk/action/tan/resources.shtml#our>
This book is designed to introduce primary-age children to the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. It offers children a simple way of understanding the rights
embodied in the Declaration and what they look like in their lives; and also helps
them to identify what a right is – and the responsibilities that accompany it, as well as
what action they might take to defend their rights and those of others.
Popular Education for Human Rights by Richard Pierre Claude (Human Rights
Education Associates, 2000)
Languages: English, Chinese, Indonesian, Spanish.
Online version (English): <http://www.hrea.org/pubs/Popular_Education>
Earlier version: The Bells of Freedom, in Amharic, English, French.
Online version (English): <http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/education/belfry.pdf>
Online version (French):
This book is a trainer’s guide for human rights activists. It is deliberately not
copyrighted in solidarity with those involved in popular education and community
organizing; any non-governmental organization or educator may copy and adapt it to
local settings and culture simply by acknowledging the author and source. Designed
for non-formal education, the manual gives teachers options that are appropriate for
participants with minimal literacy skills. The emphasis is on the concerns of
marginalized groups including the rural poor, women and children. The participatory
exercises can also be used in formal education.
Stand up NOW for Human Rights! (video and support pack), (Council of Europe,
Languages: English and various other European languages.
This video aims at raising human rights awareness among young people, primarily in
the age group 13 to 18, by explaining the historical development of human rights and
showing how young people can be involved in activities to protect and promote
human rights through Europe. The video is accompanied by a support pack,
explaining how the video can be used for educational purposes.
The European Convention on Human Rights: Starting Points for Teachers
(Council of Europe, 2000)
Languages: English, French, German.
Online version (English): <http://www.coe.int/portalT.asp>
Online version (French): <http://www.coe.int/portailT.asp>
(go to General Information -> Information Material -> Human Rights Fact Sheet)
This teaching kit is composed of two series of teaching materials: one on the
elaboration of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms, the other one on the content of the Convention. This last part
consists of sheets presenting activities which can be organized in the classroom and
which address various subjects such as the content and meaning of human rights,
national human rights protection systems, human rights at school, etc. Teachers will
find a list of activities and studies to be conducted with students: research on the
Internet, interviews, viewing of films addressing human rights issues, etc.
Stand up for your rights – A book about human rights written, illustrated and edited
by young people of the world (Peace Child International, 1998)
Language: English.
Online reference page: <http://www.peacechild.org/acatalog>
This book is a commentary written by children and young people on the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights. Stories, poems, personal recollections and illustrations
help to bring each article of the Declaration to life. There are also details on
organizations to join and things to do to help make the world a better place. A
teacher’s guide is also available.